Attention & Cognitive Control
GROUP LEADER - Prof. Nilli Lavie
Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AZ
Psychological and neural mechanisms of: attention, distraction, visual awareness, executive control, interaction of emotion attention and awareness. Special focus on information processing capacity and the effects of different types of information load on brain activity, cognitive function and task performance, neural correlates of awareness, executive frontal control of attention and behaviour, individual differences in attention abilities. Methods used: behavioural experiments, neuroimaging, machine learning.
- Alina Bialkowski
The amount of load on the brain is critical to determining whether a task can be fully perceived with high levels of perceptual load causing inattentional blindness — a phenomenon where a person looks but fails to see. Failing to notice and respond to changes in the visual environment can have serious consequences, and better modelling and understanding of load in natural environments can reduce such risks.
I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Attention and Cognitive Control lab. My work is at the intersection of computer vision, machine learning and cognitive neuroscience, and involves the modelling of attention for real world applications. I develop computational models to represent visual information (i.e. images and video) to better understand distraction, load and attention mechanisms in the brain. I also develop visualisations of machine learning and computer vision models to bring human understanding to data.
Prior to moving to UCL, I received my PhD in machine learning at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia, where I also received a BEng (Electrical Engineering). I also spent a year at Disney Research Pittsburgh where I developed algorithms and tools to automatically monitor and analyse team sports.
My research interests include feature learning, pattern recognition, modelling and visualisation of large visual and spatio-temporal datasets.
- Joshua Eayrs
PhD student. The notion that perception relies on a capacity limited process implies that some individuals may have more capacity than others. These ‘higher capacity’ individuals may perform better than others on tasks involving increased load. This also opens the possibility that training may enhance performance through increasing capacity (for example, people who regularly play video games do seem to have better performance on certain perceptual tasks). My research is focused on establishing methods to measure the perceptual processing capacity on an individual level and potentially develop training methods to enhance this capacity. Over the past four years I studied for a BSc in Psychology at Bangor University followed by an MSc in Neuroimaging also at Bangor. Prof. Nilli Lavie is my PhD supervisor, my secondary supervisor is Prof. Chris McManus.
- Jake Fairnie
Jake’s research focuses on attention, awareness and unconscious processing. He is interested in how our brains cope with the overwhelming amount of sensory information in today’s hectic world. Jake is fascinated by how we can be distracted by our name in a distant conversation at a party or an attractive individual in the street and yet, at the same time, fail to notice a pedestrian crossing the road, the touch of a pickpocket, or a magician’s sleight of hand.
Jake also makes science films, chocolate brains and is co-founder and Director of MiniManuscript.com - a literature-summary website that is creating a more efficient, open and connected academic world.
- Anthony Harris
Broadly, my research examines the properties that influence whether we attend to the objects in our surroundings, and how such attentional allocation is produced by the brain. In particular, I investigate the role of rhythmic fluctuations in brain activity – so called ‘neural oscillations’ – in human attention and perception. I employ a range of techniques including behavioural measurements, eye-tracking, electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), and non-invasive brain stimulation, to examine these processes both in the lab and in the applied contexts of every-day life.
- Michael Hobbiss
I am interested in the types of cognitive control required for educational success, especially during the period of adolescence. How well do young people, whose ability to control their thoughts and attention is still developing, cope with the sometimes overwhelming number of concurrent information sources in the modern world? What differences are there between adolescents and adults, and what do these differences tell us about brain and cognitive development in this period? I run laboratory experiments and also work with schools to try to answer these sorts of questions, measuring things distraction, emotion and multi-tasking ability.
- Fintan Nagle
Fintan is a vision scientist with a computational background. After BSc and MRes training in computer science and bioinformatics, he competed PhD research in experimental psychology, conducting the first analysis of temporal visual search on dynamic natural scenes. His current research interests are modelling and prediction of the attentional state during task-switching behaviour, temporal visual search, and knowledge representation for data and model sharing.
- Katharine Molloy
My research focuses on how well we perceive perceptual stimuli when our attention is engaged elsewhere. Much of the recent research in this field has focused on visual tasks. But the world is a multisensory place! Coming from a background of hearing research, I plan to look at whether the effects seen in the visual domain also apply for auditory tasks, and how focusing our attention in one modality affects our perception of the other.
- Luke Palmer
• Cognitive and computational neuroscience of the visual system
• Machine learning
• Computer vision (esp. landmark registration)
• Biomedical imaging (esp. fMRI)
- Theresa Wildegger
I am broadly interested in perception, attention and memory. I completed a BSc in Psychology and Neuropsychology at Bangor University, where I studied cross-linguistic influences on word perception in Welsh-English bilinguals under the supervision of Prof Debbie Mills in the Bangor Brain and Cognitive Development lab (BBCD). At the same time, I also worked as a research assistant in the BBCD on a range of different projects. I then moved to the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University to complete an MSc in Psychological Research which, under the supervision of Prof Glyn Humphreys, examined the effects of object knowledge on visual search. Upon completion of my Masters, I stayed at Oxford University for a DPhil degree, working together with Prof Kia Nobre and Prof Glyn Humphreys. In my DPhil thesis, I examined a broad selection of topics including feature-based and spatial preparatory attention, subliminal influences in WM, and retrospective attentional selection within WM. As a postdoc in the Attention and Cognitive Control lab at UCL, I will examine human driver attention and driver-car interactions in highly automated driving, using methods from cognitive neuroscience and machine learning.