Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Functions of attention include achievement and maintenance of a state of alertness, selection of information from sensory input, and regulation of responses when dominant or well-learned behavior is not appropriate. These functions have been associated with activation of separate networks of brain areas. We review the developmental course of the attention networks during infancy and childhood and the neural mechanisms underlying their maturation. Alerting is active early in infancy, although the ability to endogenously maintain the level of alertness develops through late childhood. The capacity to orient attention to external stimulation is also present from quite early in life, and most aspects of orienting related to the control of disengagement and voluntary orientation improve during childhood. Executive attention starts developing by the second half of the first year of life, showing significant maturation during the preschool years. The efficiency of all three functions is subject to important individual differences, which may be partially due to variations in genes related to neurotransmitters that modulate the activation of the attention networks. Additionally, attention can be fostered by training, and attention training has the potential to benefit aspects of behavior central to education and socialization processes. Finally, we discuss changes in attention that occur late in life.

Keywords: attention, development, attention networks, alerting, orienting, executive attention, infancy, childhood, individual differences, neurocognitive development

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.