Investigation of the Development of Attention in a Human Being

Investigation of the Development of Attention in a Human Being

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Investigation of the Development of Attention in a Human Being Attention is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid
form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects
or trains of thought. Focalizations, concentration of consciousness
are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to
deal effectively with others.

Development of Attention

In his early years of life the child does not have a store of memory
units to draw on. Over his developing years he must learn to obtain
control over his perceptual and attention process. Children proceed
through stages of attention that differ from child to child.

First Year of Life

This stage is distinguished by great distractibility and the child’s
attention is involuntarily taken over by the main stimulus of the
surroundings. The children have limited ability to hold back or
disregard stimuli, the child’s focus can not be maintained.

Second Year of Life

During this stage, with maturation and growth process of the nervous

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system the child develops more ability to inhibit and ignore stimuli
and begins to be able to concentrate for a period of time on a
concrete task of its own choice. The attention is completely rigid and
inflexible and the effort involved in maintaining attention to the
chosen stimuli has to be totally cut out i.e. no distraction can be

Third Year of Life

This stage is similar to stage 2; he can still only attend to one task
at a time. However, while in stage 2 the child can only attend to one
activity at a time, now the attention is more flexible. The child can
shift his attention by only stopping what he is doing and locking
attention to the next activity. This type of attention is called
single channel attention.

o Single channel attention In this theory, the capacity for
information processing is considered to be fixed - a single
undifferentiated resource - in the extreme case, a single information
channel, one and only one stimulus-response operation at a time.

Fourth Year of Life

The child’s attention is still single channel; but he is in charge of
his own focus of attention. So if an adult interferes while he is
doing a task, he will willingly stop-switch his attention to the
adult-listen-then move his attention back to the task.

Fifth Year of Life

o Two-channel attention the child can attend to outside stimuli whilst
continuing with a task, i.e. he can listen while doing etc. in the
early stages this integrated attention only lasts for short periods
but gradually these periods lengthen. The child is not ready for the
classroom until he has reached the two channel attention.

o Integrated attention So we develop through these stages until, in
our prime we reach the peak of our ability to attend in a fully
integrated and controlled way. However, it is important to emphasize
that the stages are not mutually exclusive. We do not necessarily
function at the peak of our abilities, but our ability to attend
varies from minute to minute, task to task, and circumstances to
circumstances. Increasing age is accompanied by gradual loss of skills
and actions cease to be automatic. Thus, we tend to regress back
through the stages.

The further up the child gets in schools the greater are the demands
on attention. The child would be expected to take notes while the
teacher is talking, which would be an impossible task unless the
child’s attention is totally integrated. It might also be that the
same child’s attention differs in different circumstances.
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