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Annu Rev Psychol. 2001;52:629-51.

Attention and performance.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Recent progress in the study of attention and performance is discussed, focusing on the nature of attentional control and the effects of practice. Generally speaking, the effects of mental set are proving more pervasive than was previously suspected, whereas automaticity is proving less robust. Stimulus attributes (e.g. onsets, transients) thought to have a "wired-in" ability to capture attention automatically have been shown to capture attention only as a consequence of voluntarily adopted task sets. Recent research suggests that practice does not have as dramatic effects as is commonly believed. While it may turn out that some mental operations are automatized in the strongest sense, this may be uncommon. Recent work on task switching is also described; optimal engagement in a task set is proving to be intimately tied to learning operations triggered by the actual performance of a new task, not merely the anticipation of such performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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