Attention and Working Memory

c_thomas_wild at my-deja.com c_thomas_wild at my-deja.com
Thu Oct 5 10:27:33 EST 2000

In article <39DC791B.3389F084 at columbia.edu>,
  Vincent Ferrera <vpf3 at columbia.edu> wrote:
> What's the difference between attention and working memory?  What
> experiment, that could be performed on animals or without a verbal
> response, could one use to distinguish them?
> vf
Good question.  It seems to me that both attention and working memory
have been and can be defined by different researchers quite differently.
Here's an URL which tends to address the idea of paying attention in
dogs.  Some dogs have an innate, genetic ability to attend better than
other dogs.  With humans, there are a number of neurological syndromes
including epilepsy (absence seizure) and ADD (attention deficit
disorder) which tend to address the question of attention and working

Paying Attention and Dogs:
A trained dog like a bloodhound trained to sniff a certain scent has to
use both attention and working memory to pay attention to a trail with
a definite scent vs 100's or 1000's or more of other scents which are
present along the trail.

With a dog, three bowls of different dogfood will attract the dog's
attention.  Why would a dog perhaps prefer one of the three bowls of
dogfood using working memory over the other two?  Would that perhaps
tend to define attention from working memory in some way?

Because all the bowls contain food, the dog's attention is activated.
Because of working memory/memory, why would the dog perhaps prefer the
food in the one of the three bowls over the other two?  Would working
memory which stores food scores of the three different bowls of dogfood
be activated so that one bowl of dog food receives five stars and the
other two receive say only three and two stars?

It's my understanding that words and numbers are housed in different
areas of the human brain.  So are pictures.  It's absolutely incredible
what humankind has been able to accomplish over the last 100,000 or so.
There still are lots of questions to be asked and work to be done on
attention and memory before all the answers are in (if they ever will
be).  It's enormously complex along the same level of complexity
involved with the Human Genome Project.  That's my view.

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