“attention: The focus of consciousness on something in the environment, or on a sensation or an idea. Attention includes a number of elements that are essential to all activities, including
- arousal: being ready to receive stimuli
- vigilance: being able to select stimuli from those presented over a broad period of times
- persistence or continuity: being able to sustain a mental effort and select stimuli that are presented often
- monitoring: checking for and correcting errors
The length of time in which a child can pay attention to something (the attention span) increases with age, interest, and intelligence level.
Breakdowns in these different elements can cause a variety of problems. A breakdown in vigilance, for example, might cause someone to select or focus on the wrong details. A breakdown in monitoring might lead to repeated careless errors. Persistence or continuity is necessary for a complex task to be completed.”
Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.