Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a discrete aspect of information, whether deemed subjective or objective, while ignoring other perceivable information. It is a state of arousal. It is the taking possession by the mind in clear and vivid form of one out of what seem several simultaneous objects or trains of thought. Focalization, the concentration of consciousness, is of its essence. Attention has also been described as the allocation of limited cognitive processing resources.
Attention remains a major area of investigation within education, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology. Areas of active investigation involve determining the source of the sensory cues and signals that generate attention, the effects of these sensory cues and signals on the tuning properties of sensory neurons, and the relationship between attention and other behavioral and cognitive processes like working memory and psychological vigilance. A relatively new body of research, which expands upon earlier research within psychopathology, is investigating the diagnostic symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury and its effects on attention. Attention also varies across cultures.
The relationships between attention and consciousness are complex enough that they have warranted perennial philosophical exploration. Such exploration is both ancient and continually relevant, as it can have effects in fields ranging from mental health and the study of disorders of consciousness to artificial intelligence and its domains of research and development.