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University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2021/22

Module Code:


Module Name:


Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Melina Kunar

Module Teachers


Module Aims

The aim of this module is to provide a broad understanding of attention, why we need it, how it works and what happens when it breaks down. Topics include how we can select just a few items among many; whether we select the items themselves or the locations they occupy; whether there are some items that we cannot help but attend; how attention can be affected by brain damage; how we can sometimes fail to see items that appear right in front of our eyes; and how we use modern brain-scanning techniques to investigate attention.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the ‘classical’ attention paradigms (such as Inhibition of Return and Negative Priming etc.) along with some more recent experimental paradigms

  • Critically evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of multiple brain scanning techniques used to investigate attention, with examples of how each technique has been used in research.

  • Critically evaluate the evidence for and against several main theories of attention.

  • Critically evaluate theories showing why attention is impaired after brain lesions, as well as critically evaluating theories showing normal temporal and spatial limits of attention.

  • Critically evaluate theories of how we use attention to help us search and relate to the visual environment.

Assessed by:

Essay & exam

Module Work Load

Module Length

12 weeks


One 2 hour lecture per week


One seminar per week


Attendance at lectures and seminars is compulsory

Module Assessment

Assessed work:






Module Programme

1 Introduction 2 Perceptual load and Attention 3 The Control of Attention 4 Spatial versus Object-based Attention 5 Unilateral Neglect 6 Divided Attention 7 Visual Search 8 Visual Search and Memory 9 The Limits of Attention 10 Brain Imaging Techniques Within Attention 11 Revision 12 Revision

Module Reading List

Styles, E. A. (1997). The psychology of attention. Psychology Press Ltd.

or refer to the Talis reading list that is available online.