The Organized Mind: Attentional Filter Part I

Ever wonder why when your driving, you can snap back into it and scarily realize you haven’t been paying attention the past few minutes? This is important for all of us, so we can choose what we pay attention to a little more carefully and thoughtfully.

Attention is the most essential mental resource for any organism. It determines which aspects of the environment we deal with, and most of the time, various automatic, subconscious processes make the correct choice about what gets passed through to our conscious awareness. For this to happen, millions of neurons are constantly monitoring the environment to select the most important things for is to focus on. These neurons are collectively the attentional filter. They work largely in the background, outside of our conscious awareness. This is why most of the perceptual detritus of our daily lives doesn’t register, or why, when you’ve been driving on the freeway for several hours at a stretch, you don’t remember much of the scenery that has whizzed by: Your attentional system “protects” you from registering it because it isn’t deemed important.” -Daniel Levitin (pg.7,8)

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