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In this talk, I will aim to dissect contributors to sustained attention in terms of task-based factors (learning progress) and individual variation in novelty biases. I will present findings from an EEG task with 10 month-old infants as well as other experimental approaches (i.e. ongoing research with yet no data) aimed at clarifying the role of these two factors. I will place this research in a larger framework of attention control literature and I will argue that only by seriously considering the building blocks of cognition (representations, reward, prediction) will we understand developmental changes in the so called executive functions.