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Attention

We often throw around the concepts of attention in daily phrases, such as “paying attention,” “focusing,” and “multitasking.” Attention is commonly defined in scientific research as the process by which some information is selected (“attended”), and other information is ignored. Although it may seem like a simple concept, attention is a difficult concept to study scientifically because it has many aspects.

Decades of research on attention have focused on selection (i.e., attention as a filter, blocking irrelevant information to let relevant information pass through). When studied in conjunction with working memory, attention has been characterized as a limited resource (e.g., similar to a monetary budget). When studied in the context of other cognitive abilities such as planning and problem solving, attention has been characterized as cognitive ...

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