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08 - Attention 1 - Dec 12, 2016

Topics addressed in the lecture:

  • What is attention?
  • Distinguishing attention from arousal
  • Demonstrations of perceptual effects of attention
  • Examples of quantitative studies of attention, based on psychophysical approaces, evoded potential (EEG) and fMRI
  • Neglect as an example of diseases of attention

Topics addressed in the seminar:

  • The influence of attention on the perception of stimulus contrast
  • The neural correlates of dividing the 'spotlight of attention' across two spatially separate visual stimuli

Questions you should be able to answer after the lecture:

  • Describe the Cocktail-Party-Effekt in attention research
  • Desribe the dependency of reaction times on the number of distractors in parallel and in serial visual search experiments.
  • Which region of the brain is typically lesioned in patients with the neglect syndrome?

Questions you should be able to answer after the seminar:

  • What effect of spatial attention on the perceptual qualities of a luminance grating is reported in Carrasco et al. (2004)?
  • How did McMains et al. (2004) use fMRI to show that the 'spotlight of attention' can be split?
  • How did Mueller et al. (2003) use EEG to show that the 'sptolight of attention' can be split, despite the low spatial resolution of EEG?

You should know the following terms and concepts after the lecture:

  • attention vs. arousal
  • central bottleneck
  • dichotic listening experiments
  • visual search experimental paradigm, simple vs. conjunctive search
  • Posner experimental paradigm
  • Neglect syndrome

You should know the following terms and concepts after the seminar:

  • automatic vs. voluntary spatial attention
  • retinotopic mapping in fMRI
  • steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)

Learning objectives (Lernziele) - Lecture:

  • Effects of attention on sensory infomation processing have been known for a long time and have already been investigated in the 19th century.
  • Modulatory effects on the bandwidth of sensory information processing are not unique to attention but also occur in arousal.
  • Arousal is distinguished from attention by the selection process that is an integral component of attention.
  • The core reason for the develpment of attentional systems is the assumed existence of a central bottleneck, limiting the amount of sensory information that can be processed.
  • In this view attention is assumed to contain a mechanism to flexibly select which sensory information is passed through the central bottleneck. The perceptual impression that our perception of environment is complete, rather than limited by a central bottleneck, is an illusion that becomes apparent in studies of inattention blindness and change blindness.
  • Functional and behavioral effects of attention can be shown with a multitude of methods.
  • The central role of attention in information processing is apparent in the frequency of attentional effects that show up in neurological and neuopsychiatric diseases.

Learning objectives (Lernziele) - Seminar:

  • Investigating the perceptual effects of directing spatial attention onto a visual stimulus with psychophysical methods is challengig but possible with carefully designed paradigms (see Carrasco et al. (2004)). Such results emphasize the linking hypothesis.
  • High-resolution fMRI and special EEG-techniques can be used to show that the 'spotlight of attention' can be split.

Download lecture slides

Last update of this page: Jan 26, 2017