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Richards, J.E. (2005). Attention. Entry in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development (282-286).. Cambridge Press. (PDF)(pdf )

Attention may be defined as the selective enhancement of some behavior at the expense of other behavior. Writings on attention often cites William James, Principles of Psychology (1890), “…everyone know what attention is”. This is because we all have a commonsense notion of what attention is and that it is ubiquitous across all types of behavior (e.g., attention to objects, joint attention with others, social attention, motor skills).  Attention is defined both as a specific psychological mechanism and as a characteristic of individual psychological behavior.  Thus, in the developmental perspective there may be a separate cognitive process called “attention” that develops independent of other psychological behavior as well as attention development specific to behavior. Attention development is often linked to the development of brain areas that are involved in attention.