The development of selective attention: a life-span overview

Acta Psychol (Amst). 1994 Aug;86(2-3):227-72. doi: 10.1016/0001-6918(94)90004-3.


This paper outlines research on selective attention within a life-span developmental framework. Findings obtained in both the infancy-child and adulthood-aging literatures are reviewed and discussed in relationship to four aspects of selective attention: orienting, filtering, search, and expecting. Developmental consistencies and inconsistencies are identified and integrative theories are evaluated. Although a single theory is unlikely to accommodate the diverse patterns of age effects, emergent themes are identifiable nonetheless and the essential ingredients of a life-span theory of attentional development are enumerated. Directions for future research and theory are suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Perception
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Eye Movements
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Visual Perception