Urbanisation, the arousal system, and covert and overt attentional selection.


Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


Urbanisation is growing rapidly. We review evidence that this growth is altering the default information processing style of human beings by impacting both overt and covert processes of attentional selection (i.e. attentional selection with and without eye movements respectively), in ways consistent with reduced attentional engagement and increased exploration. While the factors and systems mediating these effects are likely to be many and various, we focus on one system which may be responsible for mediating effects on both covert and overt attentional selection. Specifically, the neuromodulatory locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system is key to regulating cognitive function in a behaviourally relevant and arousal-dependent manner and therefore well suited to supporting adaptation to the profound socio-ecological changes inherent in urbanisation.

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