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Journal Article

Citation

Hommel B, Chapman CS, Cisek P, Neyedli HF, Song JH, Welsh TN. Atten. Percept. Psychophys. 2019; ePub(ePub): ePub.

Affiliation

Centre for Motor Control, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, 55 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 2W6, Canada. t.welsh@utoronto.ca.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2019, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)

DOI

10.3758/s13414-019-01846-w

PMID

31489566

Abstract

In this article, we challenge the usefulness of "attention" as a unitary construct and/or neural system. We point out that the concept has too many meanings to justify a single term, and that "attention" is used to refer to both the explanandum (the set of phenomena in need of explanation) and the explanans (the set of processes doing the explaining). To illustrate these points, we focus our discussion on visual selective attention. It is argued that selectivity in processing has emerged through evolution as a design feature of a complex multi-channel sensorimotor system, which generates selective phenomena of "attention" as one of many by-products. Instead of the traditional analytic approach to attention, we suggest a synthetic approach that starts with well-understood mechanisms that do not need to be dedicated to attention, and yet account for the selectivity phenomena under investigation. We conclude that what would serve scientific progress best would be to drop the term "attention" as a label for a specific functional or neural system and instead focus on behaviorally relevant selection processes and the many systems that implement them.


Language: en

Keywords

Attention; Decision making; Evolution; Intention; Motor control; Parietal cortex; Phylogenetic; Selection; Sensorimotor; Superior colliculus

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