The Competition for Attention in Humans and Other Animals

David A. Washburn and Lauren A. Taglialatela

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition

Second edition

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392661
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Competition for Attention in Humans and Other Animals

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Show Summary Details


Experimental evidence, psychometric evidence, and neuropsychological evidence shows that attention is a multidimensional construct consisting of at least three separable factors: focusing or selectivity, scanning or orienting, and sustaining or alerting. This chapter shows that nonhuman animals, like humans, have produced evidence for all three aspects of attention. Tasks like Stroop that require executive intervention to resolve response competition reflect the attention-focusing factor in humans, and animals have also shown Stroop-like effects suggesting this factor. Visual search and similar tasks that tap the scanning component of attention have also been used across species. Vigilance tasks have been less frequently employed with nonhuman animals, but nonetheless there is a growing literature from humans and animals on alertness or readiness to respond and its relation to performance.

Keywords: animal attention; competition; Stroop; visual search; vigilance

Article.  13222 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.