Giving attention to a stimulus involves using selective concentration or focus on a particular concept or object in the environment.

Children often demonstrate the effects of their attention in the form of apparent misperceptions. For example, the relative size of objects near the center of a child's visual stimulus field regularly is overestimated by the child. Human adults, generally, direct their attention in relation to the novelty, incongruity, complexity, or personal significance of the situation. As situations become increasingly familiar or similar to situations previously experienced by an individual, the actions of that individual become increasingly routine, and the level of attention diminishes. There are demonstrable, distinct, and measurable neurological, physiological, and biochemical markers of attention. The capacity to achieve or to maintain a state of focused attention may be limited by cognitive inefficiencies or physical dysfunctions.

In psychology, the term attention span is used to mean the number of separate stimulus elements, or the amount of stimulus material, that can be perceived and remembered after a brief presentation. In popular usage, attention span refers to the amount of time that can be spent continuously in a state of focused attention.

See also Attention deficit hyperactive disorder; Cognition ; Educational psychology ; Intelligence .



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