Introduction: modeling memory and attention

Nelson Cowan

in Attention and Memory

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780195119107
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199870097 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychology Series

 Introduction: modeling memory and attention

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This historical chapter examines the fundamental relation between memory and attention. Information that is temporarily in or near conscious awareness is in the focus of attention, so attention and memory can be viewed as two sides of the same coin. The emerging information processing field led to the model proposed in a 1988 Psychological Bulletin article by the author, upon which the book is based. The model distinguishes between two sources of short-term memory: the currently, temporarily activated elements from long-term memory and the subset of activated elements that are in the focus of attention. Presumably, although relatively unprocessed elements of long-term memory can be automatically activated, new associations between items, and between each item and its context, may be set up only in the focus of attention. Attention is controlled partly by volition (central executive processes) and partly by changes in stimulation that recruit attention.

Keywords: associations; activated elements; central executive; focus of attention; information processing; long-term memory; short-term memory

Chapter.  19307 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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