While often being associated only with visual cognition, attention is gradually becoming relevant for other sensor modalities and also for modeling other stages of cognitive information processing than perception. From having been a topic primarily studied by psychologists, the area has become increasingly interesting also for ethologists, neuro scientists and roboticists.
This paper summarizes important research results, and gives an overview of common bottom-up and top-down models for visual attention. Several examples of mechanisms related to attention are given and put into context. Models for executive attention a.k.a. cognitive control are also explained and put into relation with perceptual attention. A number of experiments and results related to the function of pre-frontal cortex are reported and discussed. Besides giving overviews of the areas and important results, the paper tries to formulate a unified view and generalization of the many, seemingly different, mechanisms denoted attention and cognitive control. As an example of how perceptual attention and cognitive control often are intertwined, a model inspired by Miller and Cohen (1994) is finally adopted to describe the rapid eye movements called saccades.