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The concept of attention Essay

How do you define the concept of attention?

The psychological concept of attention refers to the selective processing and concentration done by the brain. Attention is something that focuses on a particular aspect of the environment, while the others are being ignored or unnoticed. The attention of the individual is that part of the dynamic occurrences in the environment wherein the brain is concentrated on.

For instance, when taking an exam, the attention is centered on the exam itself, but not on the people passing by the windows. Hence, attention is a brain function that essentially centers on a particular event happening around the person. Although one’s attention may not necessarily on external and occurring incidents, but like the case of daydreaming, on things that are present on one’s mind.

The level of attention of an individual can also have its variation, from focused attention to divided attention. There are also instances when this attention becomes sustained or un-sustained, or even selective. Dynamic neurological activities in the brain occur, which enables the person to generate a particular kind of attention.
Can attention be consciously allocated to tasks?

The attention of the individual can be consciously allocated to task, as the particular focus of a person can be something that is fine-tuned or dictated by the brain. As was mentioned, different levels and types of attention can occur, and tasks are effectively done if there is focused attention. Being primarily a neurological function, attention therefore can be a conscious effort by the individual, and if one so desires to focus attention on a task, then it is a possibility. The mere desire to commit to a task creates a certain kind of stimulus that signals the brain to focus on such task. This focused attention hence enables the individual to allocate oneself to that task dictated and determined by one’s consciousness.

The opposite of attention is being confused or distracted, and these psychological states can be something that is uncontrollable or unmanageable, in cases wherein the person has high physical stress or metal disorders. In such cases, then committing one’s attention to a task would be a tedious and difficult task, as there are other neurological activities occurring in the brain. This therefore removes one’s focused attention, and the attention becomes divided or alternating.
What is the relationship between attention and cognition?

The concept of attention is in fact a cognitive process, and in this sense, attention then plays an important role in cognition. Cognition would ultimately be reliant on the focused attention of the individual, as this would determine the information processing and brain function of the person. In addition, attention is argued to have connections to the working memory which enables the process of recognition and retention, depending on the attention level of the individual.

Scientific studies would show the neurological functions are triggered or have direct relationship to the ability of the person to focus his/her attention in a particular task, which then establishes the relationship between cognition and attention. Cognitive processes can only have effective and sustained outcomes if the individual has focused attention.


Myers, David. (2008). Exploring Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers.

Styles, Elizabeth. (2006). The Psychology of Attention. Hove: Psychology Press.

Willingham, Daniel. (2006). Cognition: The Thinking Animal, 3rd Edition. United States: Prentice Hall.

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