Attention 1

It is easy to confuse attention and consciousness. Attention seems even part of consciousness. Some articles in the blog Psyblog (here) make an interesting take on attention. In fact, what I found at this blog was so engaging that I intend to visit it regularly.
An article by M. Miller from Nature 2003 is cited by the blogger. It shows that visual attention can be divided between two things. Here is the abstract:

“By voluntarily directing attention to a specific region of a visual scene, we can improve our perception of stimuli at that location. This ability to focus attention upon specific zones of the visual field has been described metaphorically as a moveable spotlight or zoom lens that facilitates the processing of stimuli within its ‘beam. A long-standing controversy has centred on the question of whether the spotlight of spatial attention has a unitary beam or whether it can be divided flexibly to disparate locations. Evidence supporting the unitary spotlight view has come from numerous behavioural and electrophysiological studies. Recent experiments, however, indicate that the spotlight of spatial attention may be divided between non-contiguous zones of the visual field for very brief stimulus exposures (<100 ms). Here we use an electrophysiological measure of attentional allocation (the steady-state visual evoked potential) to show that the spotlight may be divided between spatially separated locations (excluding interposed locations) over more extended time periods. This spotlight division appears to be accomplished at an early stage of visual-cortical processing.”

This does seem to indicate that attention is a complex concept and not just another word for consciousness. If each sense mode has zero, one or more focuses of attention at any time, plus perhaps other things (non-sensory) being attended to, then attention may be a busy little area.

2 Responses to “Attention 1”

  1. mariana says:

    they say “Human beings need binoculars to observe their consciousness”, which makes me think they will need an electronic microscope to observe their attention.

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