6 Şubat 2017 Pazartesi

Thinking by Feeling

Thinking by Feeling

Human thinks by feeling.

We learn words with sounds.  We learn thinking by listening sounds.

We think with sounds. Our inner-voice voices our thoughts out of our will.

(For deaf people...

View, lip reading, the view of words may replace the function of hearing in deaf people.

The fundamental in thinking is the perception element.  The fundamental is sound.

Perception  function of the brain must have developed with priority in the evolution process.

Human thinks by percepting that's why it is difficult to think abstract things.

28 Aralık 2015 Pazartesi

Attention Window and the Situation Awareness


Looking is turning our fase and eyes to a certain direction and percieve the objects there as a whole.  For example, percieving that the sides of a rectangle connect and the sides are parallel.

In contrast, seeing is identifying this object as ‘door’.  Looking is a simple operation without mental depth, a process in which lower level seeing information is stored temporarily at the buffer regions.

In seeing the object that is seen gets binded or related with the ‘door object’ in the semantical memory.

Focusing is the limitation of the area that we see under mental control and inhibition of the area outside.

Concentrating is the increasing of the binding operation during seeing.

For example, the evaluation of the door size, whether it is old or new, a comparison with the other doors etc.

Paying attention includes both focusing and some concentration. We first focuse and limit the area af attention and then concentrate, increase the binding depth somewhat.

The focused thing does not have to be a percievable object.  One can focus on an abstract subject.  The increasing attention transforms into concentration.

Attention window is the area, details of which contents are binded with their meanings.  We see the objects that are in the frame at which we focus our attention.

The attention window may be visually three dimensional as in driving.  Attention window is not visual only.  The area which has a high relational depth forms the attention window when focusing on an abstract subject.

While solving a problem, attention concentrates on different aspects of the problem and subjects related to these.  The relation’s depth and amount determines the size of the attention window.

In tasks such as Air Traffic Control, the controller who may be faced by serious problems, will have to redirect his/her attention window, shed light upon other subjects, direct his/her attention just after solving the problem.

Experiments have proved that, even some of the things that reside in the same screen may not be noticed, when the attention window gets too small.

Situation Awareness requires awareness of the size of the current attention window.


10 Mayıs 2014 Cumartesi

The Role of Design in Creativity

Some artists create spontenously some think ahead and even make roadmaps to reach the end of a creative process: the work.

Spontenous creativity may make recursive walk throughs of the incomplete work.  Sometimes a breakthrough happens and you enter a creative space which you just imagine at one step or it is relatively easy to proceed.  Intuition is triggered by the minute steps of the creative process even by coincidence.

Sometimes the creative process gets very slow and difficult and come to a halt.  The waiting period for a new beginning may take a few days or years in some cases.

Large scale work creation, even sonatas, chamber music, are difficult to manage without seeing forward.  Musical structure helps the composer to keep a sense of direction while proceeding the creative process.

Design helps the creator to do size scaling.  For example, selecting  a variations form enables you to increase the size as you wish.

Design helps the composer to divide the heavy load to small pieces and concentrate on every and each section.  Design also enables the  composer to correlate  the small pieces and build up music that is  impossible for an individual to keep in mind as a whole.

It helps to define the entities that build up the work.  This gives the possibility to observe the relative affect that arises when they come together.  

The composer interacts with instrument players and singers through the score.  The design of instrumentation and characters in an opera is simply the design of interface between them.

Design also enables the composer to set explicit intention and task set for the work.  The composer must know what he wants to get at at the beginning.  This increases the coordination of many elements of a complex art work.

The timing, duration, flow of events in an opera, flow of information in an abstract music form, the characters, moods all can be designed.

The design has to be guiding and opening the way when it gets narrow.  It should determine the main contours of the work.  It should not specify all the details.  This may cause you to get lost even at the design phase before beginning to write.

The more details defines the design, the less flexible it becomes.  But this does not mean that the design even at its birth moment should not define any details.  Sometimes you work for 12 months for a simple symbolic trick that you believe it has to live for as long as possible.

Designs help the creator to come over deadends.  The design of the nature is the genetic material in the nucleus of each living creature.  The nature has overcome her failure by being flexible enough to try new species with different genetics namely different design materials.

Design has to be dynamicly updateable.  The tendency to make change or not is left to the creator.

The dynamic decisions may be given by cognition or by intuition.  The balance between them depends on the artist and th character  of the work, also on the genre.

The design serves as a prototype which serves as a model for the intuition and imagination of the composer.  It gives clairvoyance to the composer mind's eye.

Design has an organising, guiding and regulating affect on the  creative process.  It also enables the creator to repeat the same design and create other works with the same theme.  The 'Rondeau' form is a simple example.

Design is more than what I have described upto this point.   It can be described but it is not definable.  I believe, the flexibility of the design element of the creative process is at its best when it leaves intentional spaces for intuition and crafty spaces for imagination.


18 Nisan 2013 Perşembe

A Short Outline of Automatic motor activation in the executive control of action

For various performers on the field

[1] Automatic and unconscious processes are traditionally regarded as inflexible (e.g., Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977, 1984), quite distinct in quality from the flexible nature of “voluntary” processes. However, there is increasing evidence that automatic and subliminal processes can in fact be modulated by “top-down” processes of attention, intention (“task set” or current goals) and expectation.

Recent work from Boy et al. (2010b) suggests that the important distinction is not between control that is automatic compared to control that is voluntary, but rather between pre- and poststimulus control

Control mechanisms that can override inappropriate response plans which have been automatically evoked by the environment not only act to inhibit responses after they have been evoked by the stimulus. Pre-stimulus control mechanisms also seem to play a role. Thus, task set and previous experience can modulate conflicting response tendencies in a preparatory manner.

Perceptual processing of a visual stimulus can result in motor responses even when the observer does not intend to act. One of the most well-studied of these phenomena is the “visual grasp reflex”, where an observer makes a fast, reflexive eye movement (saccade) toward a suddenly appearing—and irrelevant—visual stimulus, despite their intention to look elsewhere (e.g., Theeuwes et al., 1998; Irwin et al., 2000). ... But as response latencies increase, saccades are more likely to curve away from a distractor (e.g., Walker et al., 2006), revealing an inhibitory mechanism acting to suppress unwanted motor activity toward the irrelevant stimulus (e.g., Sheliga et al., 1995). 

However, it is possible that small amounts of force applied (erroneously) to a button might be insufficient to trigger a measurable response and thereby escape detection.  ... trials provides strong evidence that an irrelevant stimulus—or part of a stimulus—can automatically activate responses associated with it. These responses are not merely partially activated somewhere in the brain; the response can be measured in the muscles or in small hand movements with force transducers. 

In summary, shifts of attention and motor responses can be automatically and unconsciously triggered by visual stimuli. Effects of non-perceived stimuli such as these have provided key evidence that visual stimuli can automatically prime the observer to act.

Thus, it is necessary to consider how brain systems inhibit or override responses that have been triggered automatically by the environment and are not relevant to our current goals....Processing by the fast, direct processing route is automatic, and occurs irrespective of task instructions. For example, the spatial location of a target stimulus in a Simon task would be processed quickly and automatically via the direct processing route. At the same time, processing of the task-relevant target attribute (e.g., target color in a Simon task) proceeds via a slower indirect processing route. On congruent trials, the same response is activated by both the direct and the indirect processing routes, producing fast, correct responses. On incongruent trials, however, the direct processing route and the indirect processing route activate different responses which results in increased error rates, and slower response times as the conflict between competing responses is resolved.

... Importantly, models of information processing in conflict tasks often include an active inhibition mechanism which acts to selectively suppress inappropriate response activation resulting from the direct processing route...

In conflict tasks, accuracy for compatible trials is near-perfect, while fast responses on incompatible trials are often near (e.g., Wylie et al., 2009) or below (e.g., Stins et al., 2007) chance level.

...that erroneous responses are activated quickly via the direct processing route, before being selectively suppressed by an inhibitory control mechanism. 

inhibition of primed responses only operates when stimuli are presented above—and not below—the threshold required for conscious awareness (e.g., Merikle et al., 1995 using the Stroop task).  However, when the interval between prime and mask was extended beyond around 100–150 ms, incompatible trials produced faster responses than compatible trials. In other words, the usual priming effect had reversed.  This negative compatibility effect (NCE) has now been widely reported with button-press responses, foot responses, and eye  movements

... Many researchers have suggested that this reversed priming results from an inhibitory mechanism in the motor system which acts to suppress sub-threshold motor activation evoked by the prime
visual stimuli automatically evoke motor responses, Overall, these studies suggest that actions which have been automatically primed by object affordances may also be subject to automatic control.

However, recent work suggests that endogenous suppression of pre-potent responses can also be primed or evoked unconsciously and automatically (e.g., Verbruggen and Logan, 2009a; van Gaal et al., 2008, 2009, 2010a,b).

 Many researchers have suggested that observers must consciously experience conflict in order for the pre-stimulus control mechanisms to be deployed (e.g., Kunde, 2003; Mayr, 2004; Ansorge et al., 2011). However, recent evidence from van Gaal et al. (2010a) suggests that some pre-stimulus control can be evoked automatically, without conscious awareness. ...unconsciously presented stimuli can automatically evoke these pre-stimulus conflict adaptation mechanisms, and can modulate the effects of subsequent conflicting stimuli.

 Edited by Ali R+ SARAL from[REF-1]

[1] Jennifer McBride1*, Frédéric Boy2, Masud Husain1 and Petroc Sumner2 ‘Automatic motor activation in the executive control of action
1 Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK
2 School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK


27 Mart 2013 Çarşamba

Automatic Processes and Speech

Language perception is a semi-automatic process.  When we listen some one’s speech we understand key words first and put them on the premises of a context.  The rest of the sentence or phrase comes automaticly.  We do not try to understand every and each word we hear.

Speaking fast does not mean to hurry everything you say but to slow at the critical points and then throw down the rest at an incredible pace.  Increasing the speed in any mental process means the conversion of the process from a controlled one to an automatic one.

Listening a fast speech in this style is also easy to keep track of because the perception process will also get automatic and automatic processes are easier than controlled ones.

If I allude once more to my previous notes[1,2], some jobs that require continuous and heavy attention for a long duration may hurt the employees’ natural mental balance of controlled vs automatic processing.  In this case, people begin to speak slowly as well as moving slowly.  Feeling difficulties in speech can be observed for long durations even after this type of service.

Using/studying more than 3 to 5 languages concurrently may also hurt the natural automaticity of speech.


[1]  Kendiliğinden Süreçlerin Bilinçle Etkileşimi

[2] On the Interaction of Automatic Processes with Consciousness

18 Mart 2013 Pazartesi

On the Interaction of Automatic Processes with Consciousness

It is not possible, or even desirable, to remain in focal attention one hundred percent of the time. Many activities, like driving a car, for example, require constantly shifting attention for the sake of safety. An individual's concentration and focus will naturally be interrupted by automatic attention throughout the day, not just because it is necessary to notice what is happening in the surrounding environment, but also to give the brain a rest.

I believe, large systems operators such as ATCOs, ATC engineers are faced with the risk of continuously concentrating for long durations which puts them at the risk of losing the natural balance of their minds, the balance between automatic processing and controlled – conscious processing.

 Some relevant material is given below to facilitate the interested readers.



[1] Schneider, W, Shiffrin, RM, ‘Controlled and automatic human information processing: I. Detection, search, and attention’, 1977, Journal Psychological Review , Vol.84, p. 1-66, ISSN 0033295.

A 2-process theory of human information processing is proposed and applied to detection, search, and attention phenomena. Automatic processing is activation of a learned sequence of elements in long-term memory that is initiated by appropriate inputs and then proceeds automatically-without S control, without stressing the capacity limitations of the system, and without necessarily demanding attention. Controlled processing is a temporary activation of a sequence of elements that can be set up quickly and easily but requires attention, is capacity-limited (usually serial in nature), and is  controlled by the S.
[2]  Michael I. Posner* and Mary K. Rothbart, ‘Attention, self-regulation and consciousness’, (Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA and Sackler Institute for Human Brain Development,Cornell Medical College, NewYork, NY 10021, USA)

Consciousness has many aspects. These include awareness of the world, feelings of control over one's behaviour and mental state (volition), and the notion of a continuing self. Focal (executive) attention is used to control details of our awareness and is thus closely related to volition. Experiments suggest an integrated network of neural areas involved in executive attention. This network is associated with our voluntary ability to select among competing items, to correct error and to regulate our emotions
[3] Definition of Consciousness – Merriam – Webster
1a: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
b: the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
c: awareness; especially: concern for some social or political cause
2: the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought : mind
3: the totality of conscious states of an individual
4: the normal state of conscious life consciousness>
5: the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes
[4] Unconscious mind - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious refers to that part of mental functioning of which subjects make themselves unaware. The psychoanalytic unconscious is similar to but not precisely the same as the popular notion of the subconscious.  For psychoanalysis, the unconscious does not include all of what is simply not conscious - it does not include e.g. motor skills - but rather, only what is actively repressed from conscious thought.    In the psychoanalytic view, the unconscious is a force that can only be recognized by its effects - it expresses itself in the symptom.
[5] Definition of Unconscious - Answers.com
1.       Lacking awareness and the capacity for sensory perception; not conscious.
2.       Temporarily lacking consciousness.
3.       Occurring in the absence of conscious awareness or thought: unconscious resentment; unconscious fears.
4.       Without conscious control; involuntary or unintended: an unconscious mannerism.
[6] Staffan Sohlberg, The Philosophy Of Freedom - A. Unconscious Functioning, http://www.philosophyoffreedom.com/node/693

Concepts of the unconscious
We cannot be conscious of everything we do and how we do it. For example, tying our shoelaces, walking, speaking, and driving are all guided to a large degree by unconscious processing, which broad domain is also denoted by terms such as automaticity or implicit memory. The reason we have extensive unconscious capabilities has to do with efficiency. The very complex informational environments that the brain is required to handle are beyond the capacity of consciousness, which can contain only one or a few things at a time

Definitions of unconsciousness
unconscious means contents or processes that we cannot report being aware of, with automatic referring to processes and subliminal to external stimuli. Included here are contents and processes we cannot in principle become aware of (often termed nonconsciuos), such as how the visual system builds perceptions, as well as those we can become aware of, such as a stressful situation we have momentarily forgotten.
[7] Implicit Memory - Wikipedia

Implicit memory is a type of memory in which previous experiences aid in the performance of a task without conscious awareness of these previous experiences.[1] Evidence for implicit memory arises in priming, a process whereby subjects are measured by how they have improved their performance on tasks for which they have been subconsciously prepared.[2][3] Implicit memory also leads to the illusion-of-truth effect, which suggests that subjects are more likely to rate as true those statements that they have already heard, regardless of their veracity.[4] In daily life, people rely on implicit memory every day in the form of procedural memory, the type of memory that allows people to remember how to tie their shoes or ride a bicycle without consciously thinking about these activities.
[8] Attention - New World Encyclopedia

Understanding Attention
Attention is the selection of some incoming information for further processing. … Attention may be differentiated according to its status as "overt" versus "covert." Overt attention is the act of directing sense organs towards a stimulus source. Covert attention is the act of mentally focusing on one of several possible sensory stimuli. Covert attention is thought to be a neural process that enhances the signal from a particular part of the sensory panorama. …

Voluntary vs. Automatic Attention
Attention can be directed either voluntarily, also referred to as endogenous control, or automatically, which is also called exogenous or reflexive attention. While endogenous control involves one choosing of their own volition to direct their attention, exogenous control occurs when an external object or event, for example, a bee flying by, grabs attention away from the book one is reading, and attracts it involuntarily.
[9] LANA M. TRICKy*, JAMES T. ENNSz, JESSICA MILLSz and JOHN VAVRIKx, ‘Paying attention behind the wheel: a framework for studying the roleof attention in driving’,Theor. Issues in Ergon. Sci. September–October 2004, vol. 5, no. 5, 385–424, (yDepartment of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, zUniversity of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,xInsurance Corporation of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

2.3.1. Automatic vs. controlled processes. Automatic processes involve selection without awareness. These processes are effortless, fast, and can be carried out concurrently with other processes without compromising performance. Once automatic processes are initiated, they are difficult to modify. Also, automatic processes typically do not produce changes in declarative long-term memory. Consequently, a person may drive home from work on ‘auto-pilot’ and have no conscious memory of the trip.

In contrast, controlled processes involve selection with awareness. These are conscious processes, but they are also laborious and slow, and it is difficult to carry out several controlled processes at once. Controlled  processes can be started, stopped, or modified at will, and can produce conscious changes in long term memory through learning. With practice, some controlled processes may even become automatic.
2.3.2. Exogenous vs. endogenous processes. Exogenous selection occurs as a result of the way humans are built and it is initiated by the presence of specific stimulus configurations. In this case, external stimuli seem to trigger selection (it is exogenous), but the reason these stimuli produce this effect is because of the way the nervous system is built. Specifically, the nervous system is structured to respond to certain stimuli preferentially, so that there is a continuum of stimulus salience, with some types of stimuli more likely to receive exogenous selection than others.  In general, when a person is in an unfamiliar environment, and thus has no specific expectations, exogenous processing is dominant. Similarly, if a person has no specific goals in a familiar environment, exogenous processing dominates.  Exogenous processing is easily confused with bottom-up or stimulus-driven processing, but it is not the same thing. When we refer to exogenous selection we mean something that is ‘hard wired’. In contrast, bottom-up or stimulus-driven processing may also occur as a result of extended practice or learning, which are the result of internal (or endogenous) factors. For example, when a person repeatedly carries out a deliberate intention, after a while the response becomes so over-learned that it occurs automatically, and it may seem that the stimulus alone is ‘driving’ the behavior. Selection has been triggered by the stimulus (bottom-up) independent of any intentional goals (top-down). Nonetheless, this would not constitute exogenous selection in our sense because selection was not ‘hard wired’; the association resulted from repeated conscious intentions to carry out a goal (Theeuwes 1991). Some processes are bottom-up but not exogenous.  Endogenous selection results from what people know about an environment and what they want to achieve. People actively search the environment for information relevant to specific goals or intentions; they perform these tasks in ways that are consistent with expectations and previous learning. Expectancies may act as a form of ‘perceptual set’ causing people to look for specific objects at certain locations.  A perceptual set can be advantageous because it directs viewers to the goal-relevant information in a scene, and thus facilitates accomplishment of goals. An example would be looking for the exit ramp sign on a familiar freeway. Endogenous selection helps drivers react more rapidly, as occurs when they anticipate the need to brake (Johansson and Rumar 1971, Van der Hulst et al. 1999).  While endogenous selection can facilitate performance, it can also produce errors when drivers miss pertinent information because it is unexpected or does not pertain to current goals (Hills 1980, Rumar 1990).
2.4. Four modes of attentional performance
By combining automatic and controlled processing with exogenous and endogenous selection, it is possible to derive four modes of performance relevant to the study of attention and driving. The first, automatic-exogenous, can be thought of as the collection of all reflexes that are initiated by stimuli. The second, automatic-endogenous, corresponds to processing that is habitual. The third, controlled-exogenous, corresponds to a mode of performance that occurs when a person’s only goal is exploration. The fourth, controlled-endogenous, corresponds to deliberate goaldriven behavior.
These two types of process are reflexive (automatic-exogenous) and habitual (automaticendogenous).  There are a  number of important differences between reflex and habit. First, though both are triggered by  particular stimuli, these triggers are established in different ways. Reflexes are innately ‘hard wired’ into the system, whereas habits are automatic because a particular goal or intention has been repeatedly carried out. As a result, reflexes are common to all whereas habits are idiosyncratic, based on a given individual’s specific learning experiences. Second, reflexes emerge on a developmental timetable and are stable once acquired, whereas habits can be formed at any time, and can also be replaced or fade at any time due to lack of practice or new learning.
Some processes are more automatic than others in the sense that they are initiated more quickly, require less effort, are more likely to be evoked unintentionally in a given situation, and are thus more difficult to bring under deliberate control. In such a continuum, reflexes retain their position near the extreme end on the automaticity continuum, whereas habits change their level of automaticity based on the frequency with which they are practiced  ...
[10] Walter Schneider, Jason M. Chein,‘Controlled & automatic processing: behavior, theory, and biological mechanisms’, Cognitive Science 27 (2003) 525–559 (Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 3939 O’Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15221, USA)

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of developments in a dual processing theory of automatic and controlled processing that began with the empirical and theoretical work described by Schneider and Shiffrin (1977) and Shiffrin and Schneider (1977) over a quarter century ago. A review of relevant empirical findings suggests that there is a set of core behavioral phenomena reflecting differences between controlled and automatic processing that must be addressed by a successful theory. These phenomena relate to: consistency in training, serial versus parallel processing, level of effort, robustness to stressors, degree of control, effects on long-term memory, and priority encoding.

2. Definition of automatic and controlled processing
The basic nature of automatic and controlled processing was laid out in our earlier papers. In Schneider and Shiffrin (1977), an automatic process was defined as the activation of a sequence of nodes that “nearly always becomes active in response to a particular input configuration,” and that “is activated automatically without the necessity for active control or attention by the subject” (p. 2).
 In general, automatic processes “operate through a relatively permanent set of associative connections . . . and require an appreciable amount of consistent training to develop fully” (Schneider&Shiffrin, 1977, p. 2). An automatic attention response is a special type of automatic process that directs attention automatically to a target stimulus (Schneider & Shiffrin, 1977). 
In contrast to automatic processes, Schneider and Shiffrin (1977, pp. 2–3) defined a controlled process as “a temporary sequence of nodes activated under control of, and through attention by, the subject.” Furthermore, controlled processes are “tightly capacity limited, but the costs of this capacity limitation are balanced by the benefits deriving from the ease with which such processes may be set up, altered, and applied in novel situations for which automatic sequences have never been learned.”
[11]  Josh McDermott, ‘Workspace Theory: Consciousness Explained?’  - The Harvard Brain Harvard university undergraduate Journal of Neuroscience.

 Baars proposes that consciousness is the result of a Global Workspace in the brain that distributes information to the huge number of parallel unconscious processors that form the rest of the brain
many unconscious processes underlie ordinary perception and cognition. (By an unconscious process, I mean a process that takes place in the brain of which we are unaware
Baars treats the brain as a large group of separable, very specialized systems that are unconscious much of the time that they operate. At least some of these processes can, one by one, become conscious, and the successive outputs of these processes constitute conscious experience. Significant, though, is the idea that only one process can be conscious at one instant of time. In other words, consciousness is a serial phenomenon.
Baars' second claim about consciousness is that it has internal consistency, a property not shared by the collection of unconscious processes in the brain. Baars cites as an example of this property the experience of viewing a Necker cube, an optical illusion which we can consciously see in one of two different orientations. The two views of the cube can "flip" back and forth, but we cannot entertain both of them simultaneously
that a huge variety of things can be experienced consciously, but that by definition, an unconscious specialized processor can perform but a limited range of tasks
Another property of consciousness is its ability to relate what seem to be any two conscious experiences to each other. The best example of this is classical conditioning, where virtually any conscious stimulus may serve as a signal for virtually any other event. This relating cannot occur if the experiences are unconscious. Baars cites a study showing that Pavlovian association cannot occur if the signal stimulus has been repeated to the point of habituation (when the stimulus ceases to be consciously experienced). (Razran, 1961)
A fifth contrast is that conscious experiences are what Baars terms "context-sensitive," while representations processed unconsciously are not. Context-sensitivity is defined by Baars as "the way in which conscious events are shaped by unconscious factors." (Baars, 1988, p 79) Our conscious experiences are constantly affected by unconscious assumptions. Unconscious events are, in contrast, not influenced by such contextual assumptions ...

Finally, there are the contrasts of inefficient, error-prone conscious processes with efficient, relatively error-free unconscious processes. These can be illustrated with any task that a person learns. While unlearned, a task has to be performed consciously, at which point it is done slowly and with frequent errors. Once learned , the task is unconscious, and is performed with comparative speed and accuracy.
There is limited evidence that there is a delay involved in some types of conscious events, and that much unconscious preprocessing goes on prior to the conscious experience of something (Libet, 1978). Thus it is conceivable that error detection has nothing at all to do with consciousness.
[12]  B. Miller, Edited By: Andrew Jones, wiseGEEK

Focal attention refers to a type of attention in which the individual is deliberately, consciously focused on a certain thing to the exclusion of surrounding images or noises. Automatic attention occurs when an individual's attention is drawn by something; for instance, a loud noise might cause someone to look up or lose focus, and is in many cases a response that cannot be controlled. Focal attention is intense deliberate concentration, and is a skill that can be practiced
It is not possible, or even desirable, to remain in focal attention one hundred percent of the time. Many activities, like driving a car, for example, require constantly shifting attention for the sake of safety. An individual's concentration and focus will naturally be interrupted by automatic attention throughout the day, not just because it is necessary to notice what is happening in the surrounding environment, but also to give the brain a rest.

[13] Kiefer, Markus;  Front Hum Neurosci. 2012; 6: 61., “Executive control over unconscious cognition: attentional sensitization of unconscious information processing”, Published online 2012 March 23. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00061 PMCID: PMC3311241

[14] Jennifer McBride1*, Frédéric Boy2, Masud Husain1 and Petroc Sumner2, “ Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, “Automatic motor activation in the executive control of action” 1 Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK 2 School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK