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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2002 Nov 29;357(1427):1539-47.

Behavioural and ecological consequences of limited attention.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.


Ecological research in the past few decades has shown that most animals acquire and respond adaptively to information that affects survival and reproduction. At the same time, neurobiological studies have established that the rate of information processing by the brain is much lower than the rate at which information is encountered in the environment, and that attentional mechanisms enable the brain to focus only on the most essential information at any given time. Recent integration of the ecological and neurobiological approaches helps us to understand key behaviours with broad ecological and evolutionary implications. Specifically, current data indicate that limited attention affects diet choice and constrains animals' ability simultaneously to feed and attend to predators. Recent experiments also suggest that limited attention influences social interactions, courtship and mating behaviour.

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