Attention As a Connecting Tool
Attention is the psychic phenomenon of selective orientation and of psycho-nervous concentration in order to optimally carry out any activity.
In psychic processes, attention does not have a specific informational content and no product of its own, which is why it is included among the functions of the will, between the operations of intelligence or even among the general functions of consciousness.
Subjectively, attention is felt as a state of tension that can be recognized by certain behavioural signs: staring at the person or object, immobility or silence, decreased frequency of breathing, etc.
Attention deficit disorder or even lack of attention has important consequences related to the activity, from omissions to accidents, confusion or errors.
Attention meets three dimensions:
• Procedural (because behind it are complex neurophysiological mechanisms: Awake, Orientation Reaction, Vigilance);
• Functional (selective activation, concentration, orientation);
• Activity (through major implications in perceptual-cognitive activities).
The most important feature of attention is, in the opinion of all those who have studied the phenomenon, selectivity.
On average, we are constantly exposed to a multitude of stimuli that act on our sensory receptors. Depending on the activity in which we are involved or want to get involved, it is necessary to focus on the stimulus that matters most at that moment, ignoring others.
Selection involves the processing of information, and in relation to the time of its analysis, there is an early selection and a late selection.
Based on this function, the adaptation, regulation and energetic support of the activity takes place, the final goal being the efficient adaptation. This is done by correctly signalling the events and situations that are in the area of consciousness. Thanks to this function of attention, the body is warned in case of unexpected dangers.
Adjustment and adaptation are important both physiologically, cognitively and emotionally (when situations require defocusing for adaptation).
Stimuli can trigger three specific reactions to characterize attention:
• Orientation reaction (everything that has a significant connection with a task that the person has to perform, attracts attention);
• The reaction of focusing (concentration – consists in focusing attention only on those stimuli considered essential for the current activity and in blocking the irrelevant ones);
• Selection reaction (involves a decision related to the specifics of the activity and the fulfilment of individual needs generated by it).
In practical terms, attention fulfils the following functions:
• Orientation, concentration and selection function;
• Regulatory adjustment function.
Given the effort and awareness, we can talk about:
1. Involuntary attention, when the attention is captured without us having proposed this fact beforehand. A person spontaneously pays attention only to things that touch him/her, interest him/her, that produce a pleasant, unpleasant or mixed state. The nature of spontaneous attention to a person reveals its character or at least its fundamental tendencies.
2. Voluntary attention, when making an effort to achieve a certain goal or to complete a certain task. Voluntary attention was born under the pressure of necessity and with the progress of intelligence, becoming an instrument of improvement and a product of civilization.
3. Post-voluntary attention, which is based on the (superior) habit of being attentive, because – fortunately – attention can also be educated.
Depending on the main direction of attention, there are:
1. Internal attention, which involves orientation towards: thoughts, images, feelings and which appears in the communication with oneself;
2. External attention, which is oriented towards the outside world and which intervenes in all types of human activity: creation, learning, play, work;
3. Expectant or waiting attention, which is manifested when we are waiting for the initiation or completion of actions.
It is important to be aware that the whole body participates in the realization of attention, the phenomena and objects at its centre being reflected with great accuracy and precision.
Vasomotor phenomena were also analysed during the development of high-intensity concentrated attention and a high level of cerebral activity was found, with cardiac, motor and respiratory changes.
In addition, the focused attention implies the speed of noticing an expected event; it is strongly influenced by motivation and emotional states, being accompanied by explicit manifestations of facial expressions and posture.
The focus of attention has become an organic adaptation device absolutely indispensable for survival.
“Attention is the most precious and pure form of generosity”, said Simone Weil, in a syncretic wording that has become famous.
Our way of being present here and now is the one that gives the quality of the meaning of what we perceive, because our reporting is not to the world in general, but to the quality of “being” in the highest possible sense.
- Paginadepsihologie.ro, Academia.Edu, Ac-Psihologie.ro