Executive attention, also known as executive functioning or working memory capacity (WMC), refers to the ability to control one’s attention. Executive attention has two primary functions. The first is to maintain goal focus in the face of competing demands. The second function is to aid in resolving conflict or interference from habitual responses or memories for previous similar events. Executive attention, therefore, helps maintain goal-relevant information and suppress goal-irrelevant information.

Executive attention keeps novel goals, and goal-relevant stimuli, accessible in memory even when those goals are outside of conscious focus. Information is maintained in an active state where it may quickly be retrieved as needed. Information that is necessary, but no longer active, is retrieved easily from outside of conscious focus for those with high WMC. ...

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