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Areas of research interest

The Brain and Behaviour Lab studies perception, attention and the control of action in experiments that measure both overt performance (reaction times, error rates, signal detection quality) as well as brain responses generated by external and internal cognitive processes. We measure event-related brain potentials (ERPs) as an electrophysiological indicator of ongoing sensory, perceptual, memory-related and motor brain processes. Our primary aim is to uncover cognitive mechanisms responsible for the normal performance in healthy adult humans, but we also study the disruption of such mechanism caused by brain damage.

Our main areas of research are:

Mechanisms of selective attention

  • How does attending to a particular stimulus, a specific location or a distinct stimulus attribute (like colour, size or orientation) influence the processing of stimuli?
  • Does attention enhance sensory-perceptual processes, or does it influence later stages of information processing (semantic processing, the selection of responses)?
  • Which processes are affected in patients with attentional disorders resulting from brain damage?

Intermodal attention and crossmodal links in selective attention

  • Which mechanisms make it possible to selectively attend to one modality (say, vision) and to ignore another modality (like audition)?
  • Do attentional processes within one stimulus modality (like directing attention to a specific location within vision) have any influence on information processing within other modalities?

Stimulus-response compatibility and perceptuo-motor links

  • Are there ‘direct links’ between perceptual processes and response-related stages that will activate specific responses ‘automatically’?
  • Can such links even be activated by stimuli that are not consciously perceived?
  • Can automatically activated response tendencies be inhibited before they result in inappropriate behaviour?
  • How are motor activation and inhibition affected in neurological patients suffering from disorders in motor control?

Face perception

  • Are there specialised brain processes responsible for the perception and recognition of faces?
  • Which processing stages are involved in face recognition?
  • Can these stages be influenced by attention?
  • How are they disrupted in brain-damaged patients?
  • Is face perception a hard-wired 'module' or does it change during normal development and as a function of expertise?

Somatosensory processing and attentional selectivity in touch

  • Can tactile-spatial attention be flexibly adjusted according to task demands?
  • Which are the control processes involved in shifts of tactile attention?
  • How is tactile attention distributed across the body surface and what is the size of the attentional focus?
  • Are there any links between tactile attention and response preparation?