Fall 2020 - PSYC 330 D100

Attention (3)

Class Number: 3201

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    PSYC 201 and 221.



Survey the different aspects of paying attention. Topics include the effects of selective and divided attention on perceptual and cognitive function; the role of attention in human performance; attentional dysfunction and attention-deficit disorder; and the development of attentional capacity across the life span from newborns to the elderly.


This course is an introduction to one of the fastest growing and most fascinating areas in psychology. Attention, in simple terms, is our ability to focus or concentrate on some things while ignoring others. It can be divided between tasks, but not always successfully (e.g., driving a car while talking on a phone). And it can be directed to different places in our visual world, but also not always successfully (e.g., looking at but not “seeing” things that are right in front of you ... like that door you just walked into). Among the topics we will discuss are why attention is important for searching for things (e.g., when trying to do a "Where's Waldo?” puzzle). And why, as you become very well-practiced at tasks that require a lot of attention at first (e.g., playing a musical instrument or a sport), performance becomes automatic and no longer requires much attention at all. We will also discuss some intriguing cases of people who are no longer able to pay attention in a normal way because of diseases and brain injuries and disorders (e.g., ADHD). Many examples from everyday life are discussed to show why attention is an important part of how we perceive the world around us and remember things about it.


  • Take-Home Written Assignments: 100%


Remote teaching.



Articles will be assigned on a weekly basis

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).