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Attention: Definition and Functions

Attention refers to the process through which the human brain selects specific information for further processing. Human beings have attention to help them focus on specific details and then create a memory. Through attention, one can extract information from the environment and send the required body response (Banich and Compton, 2018). Perception forms the part of the brain that interprets what the body feels, hears, tastes or touches into images that can be understood before the mind can act. Attention picks the image and determines what the brain will concentrate on depending on the goals, interests, or past experiences. The brain chooses the information to perceive and act through attention, explaining how attention and perception interact.

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Pay attention is a phrase that means withdrawal from certain activities and tasks to be vigilant of the current primary process. It is focusing and processing information that is present in one’s surroundings. The human brain is limited on the amount of data it can process at any one time. This implies that it can only select specific information to process keenly and deeply. Therefore no one can pay attention to more than one thing at a time. Attention is essential because it helps modify ongoing processing across all other domain functions and serves as the modulate. It is necessary when one must entirely focus and deal with a vital task. Attention is not essential when there is no high relevant task for the brain to respond. Hemineglect is a failure of attention because an individual ignores information on the side space contralateral to a brain lesion. There is object-based neglect with attention biased on one side of the brain space. Brain parts involved are the parietal lobe, the right and left hemispheres.


Banich, M., & Compton, R. (2018). Cognitive Neuroscience (4th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Web.

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