Does Anyone Know What Attention Is?
Wayne Wu, Carnegie Mellon University
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
ABSTRACT: Despite debate and confusion in the empirical and philosophical literature, we have always known the answer: attention is selection for the guidance of behavior. I situate this proposal in light of a venerable schema for explanation of psychological capacities due to David Marr. I shall thereby present a concise, clear and up-to-date statement of a theory of attention as selection for guidance of action and explicate its empirical and philosophical implications. Accordingly, I argue for the following claims, among others: that the science of attention already endorses the claim that attention is selection for action, that this provides the correct computational theory for attention, that attention is present in every action, that every instance of attention is for the guidance of action, that attention is not a cause but an effect, and that there is no evidence for attention as necessary for conscious awareness.