Fundamental components of attention

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2007;30:57-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.30.051606.094256.

Abstract

A mechanistic understanding of attention is necessary for the elucidation of the neurobiological basis of conscious experience. This chapter presents a framework for thinking about attention that facilitates the analysis of this cognitive process in terms of underlying neural mechanisms. Four processes are fundamental to attention: working memory, top-down sensitivity control, competitive selection, and automatic bottom-up filtering for salient stimuli. Each process makes a distinct and essential contribution to attention. Voluntary control of attention involves the first three processes (working memory, top-down sensitivity control, and competitive selection) operating in a recurrent loop. Recent results from neurobiological research on attention are discussed within this framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology