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    The diachronic account of attentional selectivity

    Zivony, Alon and Eimer, Martin (2022) The diachronic account of attentional selectivity. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 29 , pp. 1118-1142. ISSN 1069-9384.

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    Many models of attention assume that attentional selection takes place at a specific moment in time which demarcates the critical transition from pre-attentive to attentive processing of sensory input. We argue that this intuitively appealing standard account of attentional selectivity is not only inaccurate, but has led to substantial conceptual confusion. As an alternative, we offer a “diachronic” framework that describes attentional selectivity as a process that unfolds over time. Key to this view is the concept of attentional episodes, brief periods of intense attentional amplification of sensory representations that regulate access to working memory and response-related processes. We describe how attentional episodes are linked to earlier attentional mechanisms and to recurrent processing at the neural level. We review studies that establish the existence of attentional episodes, delineate the factors that determine if and when they are triggered, and discuss the costs associated with processing multiple events within a single episode. Finally, we argue that this framework offers new solutions to old problems in attention research that have never been resolved. It can provide a unified and conceptually coherent account of the network of cognitive and neural processes that produce the goal-directed selectivity in perceptual processing that is commonly referred to as “attention”.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2021 13:24
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:13


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