Attention, learning, and the value of information

Neuron. 2012 Oct 18;76(2):281-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.09.034. Epub 2012 Oct 17.


Despite many studies on selective attention, fundamental questions remain about its nature and neural mechanisms. Here I draw from the animal and machine learning fields that describe attention as a mechanism for active learning and uncertainty reduction and explore the implications of this view for understanding visual attention and eye movement control. I propose that a closer integration of these different views has the potential greatly to expand our understanding of oculomotor control and our ability to use this system as a window into high level but poorly understood cognitive functions, including the capacity for curiosity and exploration and for inferring internal models of the external world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*