Temporal dynamics of cognition
Imagine a crying baby in the back of a car. Why is it that some people who find themselves in that situation can still safely notice and respond to a crossing pedestrian in front of the car, while others fail to do so?
In everyday life, our mind is constantly bombarded with sensory information, but only a small subset is allowed access to conscious awareness. Attention, a complex cognitive function, is the gatekeeper that helps to select and process information that corresponds to current top-down goals or intentions, while simultaneously suppressing irrelevant information.
An important factor that determines both intra- and individual variability in human performance – but also emotional stability – is the efficiency at which relevant information can be distinguished and extracted from irrelevant information. This efficiency and time-course of selective attention is in turn determined by several other key factors, such as experience and training, age, working-memory capacity, and emotion. Studying the impact of such factors on the temporal dynamics of attention forms the core of my research, using a combination of pupil dilation deconvolution, EEG, NIRS, tDCS, and behavioral paradigms such as the attentional blink.
Current and future research will specifically focus on the question how emotion and self-relevant information can alter the temporal dynamics of attention (and vice versa), providing opportunities to develop test- and training tools in the context of psychiatric affections including depression, neuroticism, social anxiety, and mild cognitive impairment.
Assistant Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Group leader Individual differences in attentional dynamics.
Selective attention, individual differences, cross-modal attention, emotion, attentional blink, pupil dilation, EEG, tDCS.