Table of Contents
Advances in Neuroscience
Volume 2014, Article ID 405094, 9 pages
Review Article

Developing Attention: Behavioral and Brain Mechanisms

1University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
2Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL 61701, USA

Received 15 January 2014; Accepted 7 April 2014; Published 8 May 2014

Academic Editor: Jan Gläscher

Copyright © 2014 Michael I. Posner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Brain networks underlying attention are present even during infancy and are critical for the developing ability of children to control their emotions and thoughts. For adults, individual differences in the efficiency of attentional networks have been related to neuromodulators and to genetic variations. We have examined the development of attentional networks and child temperament in a longitudinal study from infancy (7 months) to middle childhood (7 years). Early temperamental differences among infants, including smiling and laughter and vocal reactivity, are related to self-regulation abilities at 7 years. However, genetic variations related to adult executive attention, while present in childhood, are poor predictors of later control, in part because individual genetic variation may have many small effects and in part because their influence occurs in interaction with caregiver behavior and other environmental influences. While brain areas involved in attention are present during infancy, their connectivity changes and leads to improvement in control of behavior. It is also possible to influence control mechanisms through training later in life. The relation between maturation and learning may allow advances in our understanding of human brain development.