Selective Attention


Once again, we will continue exploring in detail the main cognitive functions, just like we did in previous posts. This time, we will analyze in detail another one of the types of attention that we use on a daily basis: selective attention. Just as we did in previous posts, in this one we will define in more detail what exactly is this type of attention so that later, we can start looking at how it can be recovered, among other things.

But first, let’s start with a definition. It is normally said that selective attention is the cability to look at or select a stimulus even if there are distractors present. This capability requires that our brain does not attend to those stimuli already known to ensure that attention is not paid to them consciously. In this way, we can center our attentional focus in a single task or activity. But, what properties can distracting stimuli have that could affect our selective attention? Obviously, any similarities between the stimulus that we want to pay attention to and the distractor or the spatial proximity between them, will have a direct effect on our attention. In both cases, the more similar and closer they are to each other, the more our capability to filter the distractor will be affected.

Difference Between Sustained and Selective Attention

We know there are different types of attention but, what is the difference between sustained and selective attention? If we look back at what we explained in our previous post, the main difference between the two types of attention previously mentioned is the capability that selective attention gives us to focus on a particular stimulus or activity, independently of any distractors that might also be present. In other words, the main difference between these two types of attention is that one is useful to maintain attention for prolonged periods of time (sustained attention) while the other enables us to maintain our attention on an element or activity in particular, even if our surrounding environment acts as a distractor (selective attention).

However, which one of them is more important? Each type of attention has a different function that allows us to perform all types of activities. As a result, all the different types of attention are important. Any deterioration in one of them will affect the other types of attention. This is the case, for example, of sustained attention. If this type of attention becomes affected, it could also deteriorate our selective attention because it requires that one has the capability to focus attention.

Selective Attention Exercises

Just as with other types of attention, there are several clinical studies that show that cognitive stimulation can improve our selective attention. This is why frequently performing activities that “use” our attention can be very beneficial for all of us.

In Rehametrics, from among our more than 140 cognitive exercises, there are more than twenty designed specifically to stimulate our attention. Among those that can be used to stimulate selective attention more specifically, we have:

Selective Attention: in these exercises several types of stimuli will appear repeated on screen. Among the available stimuli there are:

  • real-world objects
  • geometric shapes
  • letters
  • words
  • pseudowords
  • syllables
  • letters

Among the stimuli that appear on screen, several of them will be repeated. However, some of them will not repeat themselves on screen. Patients must select these ones before the time assigned for this task runs out. In total, there are eight exercises designed to train selective attention.

Moreover, our divided attention exercises can also be used to train other types of attention. The fact that one has to complete two or more tasks simultaneously (which allows training divided attention) will also be useful to strengthen our selective attention. As a result, we also have exercises that train divided attention from both a physical and cognitive perspective.

Improving Selective Attention with Exercises

Just as we mentioned in a previous paragraph, training attention with a certain frequency can be very beneficial for all patients. And this is exactly where Rehametrics can be very useful for both patients and for healthcare professionals. Using the cognitive exercises available in our software platform, it is possible to increase cognitive rehabilitation session frequency and duration, making sure that each patient receives the amount of therapy needed.

Furthermore, the more than 140 cognitive exercises available allow us to design cognitive rehabilitation treatment plans fully personalized for each patient. In this way, it is possible to offer a motivating and quality cognitive rehabilitation treatment that can even be adjusted to the needs of each patient, independently of where the prescribed sessions are completed. If we put together all the benefits offered by Rehametrics, we will see that it is possible to improve selective attention using software-based cognitive exercises in a very effective manner. On the other hand, following this link you will be able to access the references of several scientific publications that detail how the use of Rehametrics was beneficial for different types of patients, from both a physical and cognitive perspective.

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