Cognitive Psychology provides student readers with essential help with all aspects of their first course in cognitive psychology, including advice on revising for exams, preparing and writing course assessment materials, and enhancing and progressing their knowledge and skills in line with course requirements in cognitive psychology.



Core Areas

  • Attentional engagement theory
  • Attenuator theory
  • Automatic processing
  • Bottleneck theory
  • Central capacity theory
  • Controlled processing
  • Divided attention
  • Feature integration theory
  • Filter theory
  • Focused/selective attention
  • Guided search theory
  • Late selection theory
  • Modular theory
  • Spotlight theory
  • Synthesis theory
  • Zoom theory

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • define the key terms outlined above;
  • understand that there are different types of attention (focused/selective and divided);
  • describe and evaluate theories of focused attention including filter, attenuator and late selection theories and that of Johnston & Heinz (1978).
  • outline theories of visual attention such as spotlight, zoom, feature integration, guided search and attentional engagement; and
  • discuss research into divided attention, such as bottleneck and central capacity theories and modular and synthesis explanations.

Running Themes

  • Ecological validity
  • Experimental cognitive psychology
  • Modularity
  • Rehearsal
  • Semantics


Attention is ‘the focusing and concentration of mental effort that usually results in conscious awareness of certain aspects of ...

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