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Attention: Theory and Practice


Entry requirements

Cognitive Psychology or a similar course (only for students outside of the bachelor programme Psychology) is required. Students outside of the bachelor programme Psychology (excl. minor and Exchange students) who have taken a similar course, need to contact the study advisers of Psychology to assess if they fullfil the entry requirements (deadline: 14 days before the start of the course).


Attention, one of the most colourful concepts in psychology, refers to a whole range of characteristics of human experience and behaviour: it is selective in expressing our preferences, integrative in binding numerous aspects of stimulus information to coherent events, inhibitory in suppressing unwanted thoughts and actions, limited in restricting our multi-tasking abilities, and executive in controlling our actions. The course covers the history of research on attention, methods to analyse attentional processes, the neural basis of attention and attention disorders, individual differences and applied issues, such as the impact of mental workload on performance or the design of visual displays.

Course objectives

The student will acquire general knowledge of:

  • Theories of human attention;

  • Methods to measure attention or effects of attention on brain and behaviour; and

  • The usefulness of this above knowledge in applied settings.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. Don’t forget! For more information, see the enrolment procedure.
You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Students who take this course as part of a LDE minor or a premaster programme, exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

7 2-hour interactive lectures.

Note, although attendance is not compulsory, not attending lectures will result in a sub-standard learning experience. There will be no video lectures to allow the students present in the lecture to interact: to share all questions and opinions freely. Lecture slides will be posted online.

Assessment method

A written exam consisting of multiple-choice questions (70%) and essay questions which involves drawing (30%).

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation. It also follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these two policies.

Reading list

Proctor, R.W. & Vu, K. L. (2023). Attention: selection and control in human information processing (Leiden University Online Access:

Ruit, M. van de & Ghosh, A. (2022). "Can you hear me now? Momentary increase in smartphone usage enhances neural processing of task-irrelevant sound tones", in: Neuroimage: Reports, Vol. 2, Issue 4.


Dr. Arko Ghosh