This paper examines how the cognitive notion of attention has been employed in SLA and how it is understood in cognitive science. It summarizes recent research on attention from cognitive and neuroscience approaches. Some reformulations of problems raised in SLA research related to attention are proposed. Current research offers detailed ideas about attention and its component processes. These ideas, elaborated theoretically and empirically in cognitive neuroscience, may help untangle some important but difficult issues in SLA. Early, coarse-grained conceptions of attention, such as the limited-capacity metaphor or the automatic versus controlled processing dichotomy, are recast into an integrated human attention system with three separate yet interrelated networks: alertness, orientation, and detection. This finer grained analysis of attention is employed in a model of the role of attention in SLA.