Development of Attention as a State

Holly Alliger Ruff and Mary Klevjord Rothbart

in Attention in Early Development

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195136326
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199894031 | DOI:
Development of Attention as a State

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Attention involves system-wide alterations that signal changes in state and level of engagement. Visual attention, along with these alterations, occurs in temporal phases. These generally include intitiation, engagement, and disengagement. They can be distinguished by differences in behaviour, such as distractibility, and by differences in physiological indicators, such as heart rate. Each phase shows developmental progress. The arousal potential and the familiarity of objects and events are important factors in determining attention early in development. Later, cognition becomes a more important factor as children are able to engage in more complex activities that demand more attention. The incompatibility of the state of attention with states of high emotional arousal means that attention can help to regulate emotional state, even in young infants.

Keywords: engagement; disengagement; sustained attention; physiological indicators; regulation

Chapter.  7170 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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