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WIREs Cogn Sci
Impact Factor: 3.476

Stop paying attention to “attention”

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Abstract Conceptual fragmentation is when a term assumed to have one meaning is found to have many. When these different definitions overlap in meaning and application confusion and wasted effort follows. “Attention” is such a fragmented term. The response to conceptual fragmentation is simple. Stop using the original term. Our reticence to do so reflects false beliefs about attention. “Attention” is not an old term, but a modern one. Its original meaning is not related to our contemporary intuitions. Attention is not a necessary concept; psychology made substantial progress, even in cognitive areas, during the years when its use was banished. Attention is just one among many examples of conceptual fragmentation in psychology. The root cause is a dearth of theory driving cognitive experimentation. Theoretical clarity is enhanced when fundamental concepts can be expressed in a mathematical form. When theories are stated in mathematical language it opens the door to rigorous cross‐domain comparisons using tools like category theory. This article is categorized under: Psychology > Attention Neuroscience > Cognition

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Psychology > Attention

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