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The Attention System of the Human Brain

The Attention System of the Human Brain The concept of attention as central to human performance extends back to the start of experimental psychology (James 1890), yet even a few years ago, it would not have been possible to outline in even a preliminary form a functional anatomy of the human attentional system.New developments in neuroscience (Hillyard & Picton 1987, Raichle 1983, Wurtz et al 1980) have opened the study of higher cognition to physiological analysis, and have revealed a system of anatomical areas that appear to be basic to the selection of information for focal (conscious) processing. The importance of attention is its unique role in connecting the mental level of description of processes used in cognitive science with the ana­ tomical level common in neuroscience. Sperry (1988, p. 609) describes the central role that mental concepts play in understanding brain function as follows: Control from below upward is retained but is claimed to not furnish the whole story. The full explanation requires that one take into account new, previously nonexistent, emergent properties, including the mental, that interact causally at their own higher level and also exert causal control from above downward. If there is hope of exploring causal control of brain systems by http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annual Review of Neuroscience Annual Reviews

The Attention System of the Human Brain

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Publisher
Annual Reviews
Copyright
Copyright 1990 Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
Subject
Review Articles
ISSN
0147-006X
eISSN
1545-4126
DOI
10.1146/annurev.ne.13.030190.000325
pmid
2183676
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The concept of attention as central to human performance extends back to the start of experimental psychology (James 1890), yet even a few years ago, it would not have been possible to outline in even a preliminary form a functional anatomy of the human attentional system.New developments in neuroscience (Hillyard & Picton 1987, Raichle 1983, Wurtz et al 1980) have opened the study of higher cognition to physiological analysis, and have revealed a system of anatomical areas that appear to be basic to the selection of information for focal (conscious) processing. The importance of attention is its unique role in connecting the mental level of description of processes used in cognitive science with the ana­ tomical level common in neuroscience. Sperry (1988, p. 609) describes the central role that mental concepts play in understanding brain function as follows: Control from below upward is retained but is claimed to not furnish the whole story. The full explanation requires that one take into account new, previously nonexistent, emergent properties, including the mental, that interact causally at their own higher level and also exert causal control from above downward. If there is hope of exploring causal control of brain systems by

Journal

Annual Review of NeuroscienceAnnual Reviews

Published: Mar 1, 1990

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