Research Groups

Group Martens

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.

  • People
  • Sander Martens PhD Visit

    Assistant Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Group leader Individual differences in attentional dynamics.

    Research fields

    Selective attention, individual differences, cross-modal attention, emotion, attentional blink, pupil dilation, EEG, tDCS.

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