The attention system of the human brain: 20 years after

Steven E. Petersen, Michael I. Posner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1820 Scopus citations


Here, we update our 1990 Annual Review of Neuroscience article, "The Attention System of the Human Brain." The framework presented in the original article has helped to integrate behavioral, systems, cellular, and molecular approaches to common problems in attention research. Our framework has been both elaborated and expanded in subsequent years. Research on orienting and executive functions has supported the addition of new networks of brain regions. Developmental studies have shown important changes in control systems between infancy and childhood. In some cases, evidence has supported the role of specific genetic variations, often in conjunction with experience, that account for some of the individual differences in the efficiency of attentional networks. The findings have led to increased understanding of aspects of pathology and to some new interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-89
Number of pages17
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • alerting network
  • cingulo-opercular network
  • executive network
  • frontoparietal network
  • orientig network


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