Potential PhD Project

The human visual system needs to make sense of a massive stream of information in order to allow us to interact adaptively with our surroundings. Rather than processing all information to the same extent, relevant information is attentionally selected for in depth processing at the expense of other less relevant information.

Previous research has identified different mechanisms involved in visual attention, such as competitive interactions between stimulus representations and selection of spatial locations, simple features (e.g. colour, orientation), or entire objects. In complex situations, these different attentional mechanisms need to work together dynamically to achieve selection. However, the interplay and dynamics of different attentional mechanisms still pose many unanswered questions that are essential to our understanding of human perception and performance in realistic situations.

Postgraduate projects under my supervision would aim to further our understanding of the interrelations of the various attentional mechanisms both in situations when attention is sustained over time and in dynamic situations where attention is shifted between stimuli or allocated to moving stimuli.

To address these questions in my lab, behavioural measures together with scalp recorded steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) are employed. This powerful technique uniquely allows for the concurrent assessment of the allocation of attention to each individual stimulus in a multi-stimulus display. Using this approach, we seek to integrate knowledge and theories from human behavioural, electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies as well as primate single cell recordings.

Thesis projects might address topics such as:

  • Attentional selection of space, features and feature-conjunctions
  • Temporal dynamics of cued shifts of attention
  • The role of selective attention in Multiple Object Tracking
  • Interactions of bottom-up stimulus properties and top-down voluntary attention on visual stimulus processing (e.g. distraction emotionally arousing stimuli or attentional selection between stimuli of different saliency)
  • Common mechanisms of attention in perception and short term memory
  • Quantitative modelling of electrophysiological and behavioural data