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Attention and memory both play very important parts within
the cognitive system, and within this paper I will explain about, their roles,
developments over time, various tests, linked disorders, and why we study them!


Attention is the act of concentration of the mind on an
object or thought (google, It is limited to capacity duration
and therefore a limited resource that is selective and only able to focus on
one main thing at a time. Taking into account all of this, it is one of the
most basic parts of the cognitive system, and something you are born with.
(Brilliant club workbook)

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Attention has developed hugely over time, with numerous ways
of testing attention being developed. For example, in 1880 a gentleman named
Wundt from Germany studied sensation, perception, reaction time, attention and
feeling association ; a first time of study for several of these areas. 1920,
saw the creation of ‘Pavlov’s dogs’, a study where a bell was repeatedly rung
on numerous occasions for the dogs to come for dinner and they were then given
food. Shortly after, in 1924 the first EEG also known as electroencephalogram,
was built, this was headwear that recorded brain activity. Another test later
created in 1935 was the Stroop effect where the names of colours would appear
and you would have to say the actual colour of the word. The 1950’s was when
the theory of Bottle neck was discovered, this is where attention is filtered
down and the important information is stored at the bottom, this was shortly
followed when during the 1970s  the first
CT scanner was built, again an extremely important piece of machinery still
used today. Finally, there were two very big developments in 1961, the first
was PET scan and in 1990 the FRML technique was invented (brilliant club
workbook). Overall, here you can see that throughout the years several tests
and studies have taken place that are based around attention; many of which
have led to new discoveries that have significant uses to us today.


Nowadays there are many more tests, some that have stemmed
from these previously mentioned. One example could be the psychomotor vigilance
test, which consists of looking at a circle on a screen and then clicking the
space bar when the numbers suddenly appear. 
It would appear that when the contestants take part for a short amount
of time it is not difficult, however when done for longer periods of time it is
seen as harder to keep concentration. (Brilliant club workbook) It has been
deduced, with evidence such as that test, 
that noise, discomfort, various thoughts, anxiety and discontent all
create an obstacle for concentration (Yord, 2012)  Another recent test is called Changed
Blindness, it consists of watching a video and focusing on a specific task , eg
counting the pass’s with the basketball. Then without you knowing, something
will happen like a bear shuffling behind the basketball players and the tests
point is to see whilst focusing on one thing if you notice another. The
deduction from this is that you can only focus on one main thing at a time.
(brilliant club)


Attention affects more than one area of the brain. Wilful
concentration, for example watching and listening to a movie, is associated
with the prefrontal cortex, where as a sudden event that you have to pay
attention to, such as jumping out of the way of a car, is more associated with
the parietal lobe. (Brilliant club work book) The prefrontal cortex, is
responsible for activities, such as problem solving, and processing thoughts
that may cause emotions, in contrast to the parietal lobe which processes
sensory emotions such as touch, taste etc… (google) However if these areas of
the brain are damaged there can be many effects. Adults that suffer prefrontal
cortex damage have been seen to develop problems with making decisions and
behaving appropriately (nature neuroscience, 2:1032-37, 1999) the damage of the
parietal lobe could lead to lack of awareness and problems with identifying
objects by touch. A common disorder linked with attention is Attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder also known as ADHD. One category of this is
inattentiveness; short attention spans, distracted easily, unable to stick to
tasks, difficulty organising, and appearing to loose and forget things. The
second category is hyperactivity and impulsiveness; unable to sit still,
excessive talking or physical movement, acting without thinking, little sense
of danger and interrupting conversations or not being able to wait their turn.(
NHS, 2016)


The study of attention may seem dull or insignificant but it
actually plays a big role in our lives. For instance, attention plays a key
role in learning, especially for infants during their childhood, therefore it
is important to understand their actions and the way best to engage them.
Secondly, it is important to research and have an understanding of humans
ourselves and how we work and further the study of cognitive development,
leading onto the final point of helping us (doctors)to understand any disorders
that may affect children or adults and how to overcome or manage these!


Memory is the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers
information ( There are four stags to memory, one of which is
attention; you have to pay attention to take in the new information, then
encoding, storage and retrieval. Memory is vital to experiences and is the
retention of information over time influencing future actions.(Wikipedia,
Eysenck, 2012)

Memory is often associated with two types, short and long
memory, however within that there are many more types. Short term memory,
depending on the person, can store at any one time five-nine things for
ten-fifteen seconds. These thoughts will then disappear unless you focus on them,
therefore going into long term memory. Long term memory is a very dense network
and the older you are the more efficient it is because it’s been doing it
longer! This is where long term memory becomes more complicated splitting into
many groups, starting with explicit and implicit. Explicit memory , also known
as declarative (squire, 2009)memory is the memory of facts and events and
requires conscious thinking, it can be further split into episodic memory and
semantic memory; episodic  memory being
experiences, emotions and time and place , contrasting to semantic memory of
structured pure facts, meanings, general knowledge and no emotions. The second
type of long term memory is implicit, which is the unconscious memory of skills
and how to do things, for example how to ride a bike (  Finally, this is then split into procedural
memory, things you don’t think about doing such as walking and then split into
priming memory , which is associations with certain things , for example the
association of doctors with nurses.(brilliant club workbook)


There are
two areas of the brain in connection with memory and they are the Amygdala and
the Hippocampus. The Amygdala is responsible for the response and memory of
emotions, in particular fear, and with the removal of this brain region it has
led to lack of fear and response to potential danger. It has also been
discovered that if the amygdala has abnormal functioning this is linked to
disorders such as anxiety and PTSD (brilliant club workbook) On the other hand
the hippo campus is required to make new memories and store information
temporally. It is located in the temporal lobe and if damaged you wouldn’t be
able to form new memories, additionally it is the first area of the brain to be
affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Either immediate or progressive damage to
these brain areas can lead to many different diseases and disorders .Memory
disorders can range from mild to severe, but all link to some kind of
neurological damage to the structures of the brain, thus hindering storage,
retention and recollection of memories. More progressive and gradual disorders
can been known as Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s, however those more immediate
could be a traumatic head injury. Overtime , it can be seen as easier to
recognise these diseases, for example the first PET scan was built in 1961
which will clearly distinguish Alzheimer’s for example because it would show
your brain scan as purple rather than yellow and red. Also it is known, that
Alzheimer’s is the inability to acquire new memories and difficulty in
recalling old memories, this is due to cell connections in the brain being


There are
many ways of assessing memory and the many types. For example the N back test
is for short-term memory and consists of pressing the space bar if the same
number came up as the one previously two before. Another well-known test, named
the delayed recall test which assess episodic memory is where you have to
remember ten things and say them ten minutes later. There aren’t only tests for
specific types of memory, but general , such as the eyewitness recall which
tests a bit of everything, it consists of watching  video then afterwards getting asked specific
questions .(brilliant club workbook)

We rely on
memory so heavily in life, our very survival depends heavily on who we are, who
others are, our past experiences and knowledge and new experiences in the
future. Day to day things like what a car is, or when being a doctor
remembering all the different disorders etc. In reality we are able to asses
memory which is important to see if your healthy, or, If you have a memory
disorder to see what stage you’re at , enabling help and support to be given ,
although, many memory disorders are incurable (



Within this
paper both attention and memory are addressed, the brain region associated with
them, tests used to assess them and any disorders linked. Attention is the act
of concentration on one main thing at a time ( and Is an
important factor in life particularly on learning. Overtime the study of
attention has progressed massively from 1880 and the German gentleman named
Wundt to 1990 and FRML tequnique. Within this progression attention can now be
assessed in many ways, for example the psychomotor vigilance test,
demonstrating the importance to assess attention to discover the best ways of
learning. Memory is the faculty by which the mind stores or retrieves
information ( and is a crucial part of life, but also
devastating to life when damage to the brain occurs potentially effecting the
ability to make new memories. However, again there are ways to assess memory
such as the N back test, giving doctors/nurses an idea as to where the patient
may be at, enabling them to find the best ways to support them. Memory is also
studied in great depth, and many categories such as the types of memory, short
and long term and within this paper the types of memory within that.

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