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How the Mind Comes into BeingIntroducing Cognitive Science from a Functional and Computational Perspective$
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Martin V. Butz and Esther F. Kutter

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739692

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739692.001.0001

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(p.255) Chapter 11 Attention
How the Mind Comes into Being

Martin V. Butz

Esther F. Kutter

Oxford University Press

Cognition does not work without attention. Attention enables us to focus on particular tasks and particular aspects in the environment. Psychological insights show that attention exhibits bottom-up and top-down components. Attention is attracted from the bottom-up towards unusual, exceptional, and unexpected sensory information. Top-down attention, on the other hand, filters information dependent on the current task-oriented expectations, which depend on the available generative models. This computational interpretation enables the explanation of conjunctive and disjunctive search. Different models of attention emphasize the importance of the unfolding interaction processes and a processing bottleneck can be detected. As a result, attention can be viewed as a dynamic control process that unfolds in redundant, neural fields, in which the selection of one interpretation and thus the processing bottleneck is strongest at the current focus of attention. The actual focus of attention itself is determined by the current behavioral and cognitive goals.

Keywords:   bottom-up attention, top-down attention, visual spotlight, saliency, object-oriented attention, visual search, inattentional blindness, cocktail party effect, feature integration theory, theory of visual attention, saliency maps, dynamic neural fields

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