Psychophysics of attention

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Attention is limited. Studies of enumeration, multiple-object tracking, and visual short-term memory suggest that attention may be limited to roughly four objects; experiments on visual search also show striking limits. When several tasks must be performed at once, the usual (although not inevitable) result is substantial impairment compared to single-task performance. Because of these limits, organisms must be selective in the extent to which they process information from various sources. This selectivity can be understood as the result of interaction between stimulus-driven and goal-directed processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780080450469
StatePublished - 2009


  • Attention
  • Attentional blink
  • Attentional capture
  • Inattentional blindness
  • Multitasking
  • Preattentive processing
  • Psychological refractory period
  • Subitizing
  • Visual memory
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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