Attention: From Theory to Practice

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The study of attention in the laboratory has been crucial to understanding the mechanisms that support several different facets of attentional processing: Our ability to both divide attention among multiple tasks and stimuli, and selectively focus it on task-relevant information, while ignoring distracting task-irrelevant information, as well as how top-down and bottom-up factors influence the way that attention is directed within and across modalities. Equally important, however, is research that has attempted to scale up to the real world this empirical work on attention that has traditionally been well controlled by limited laboratory paradigms and phenomena. These types of basic and theoretically guided applied research on attention have benefited immeasurably from the work of Christopher Wickens. This book honors Wickens' many important contributions to the study of attention by bringing together researchers who examine real-world attentional problems and questions in light of attentional theory. The research fostered by Wickens' contributions will enrich not only our understanding of human performance in complex real-world systems, but also reveal the gaps on our knowledge of basic attentional processes.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Reviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Attention, whether it is divided for multitasking or selective to inhibit distractions, is central to our everyday cognitive functioning. The body of research on attentional mechanisms has been growing steadily, especially in the cognitive neuroscience laboratory. This book reviews that literature, as well as real-world applications that can be derived from theory and bench science.
Purpose: The main purpose is to translate the science of attention occurring in the laboratory to applied situations in daily life.
Audience: A wide range of cognitive researchers and clinicians will find this of interest, from cognitive neuroscientists to neuropsychologists. Students of these disciplines will also find it relevant to their studies. The editors are faculty members deeply immersed in the real-world applications of attention research.
Features: An introduction to attention research and a discussion of attention allocation begins the book. From there it immediately jumps to applied research in the field of attention. The impact of factors such as genetics, affect, and environment/situation are discussed theoretically and in regards to real-world applications (e.g., attending to the flight mode annunciator in an aircraft). This is followed by a more in-depth analysis of an attention study in a nuclear power plant. This fascinating reading makes it easy to immediately grasp the implications of this type of applied research. Factors that relate to attention and inattention, as well as strategies to improve performance, are noted. Furthermore, illustrations and figures demonstrate topics and, in some cases where static images cannot effectively convey the concept, there are links to a web site for animated examples. The applied examples continue with several experiments on attention in terms of cell phone use and driving experience, which will be of interest to almost everyone. The effect of aging is also discussed. The book ends with a section on attention training in a variety of high-demand situations.
Assessment: This is an excellent resource that carries readers from the bench to the field without a hint of confusion or strain. The studies and examples are practical, clear, and immediately accessible to most readers. The importance of attention in our daily lives could not be made clearer and this book is sure to encourage a flurry of research and applications in this area.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195305722
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/15/2006
  • Series: Human Technology Interaction Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur F. Kramer is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the Beckman Institute and the Institute of Aviation. He is also Director of the Biomedical Imaging Center, Co-Director of the NIH Center of Health Minds, and Co-Chair of the Intelligent Human Computer Interaction Main Research theme at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Douglas A. Wiegmann is an Associate Professor of Human Factors in the Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois. He also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Psychology and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alex Kirlik is a Professor of Human Factors in the Institute of Aviation and the Departments of Psychology, Mechanical Science & Engineering, Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering, and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Toward a Practical View of Attention: Theoretical and Methodological Issues.
Part II. Emerging Issues in Applied Attention Theory.
Part III. Attention and Driving.
Part IV. Attention and Aging.
Part V. Attention and Interface Design.
Part VI. Attention and Training.
Part VII. Future Directions.

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