Research Overview

Our mental and physical behaviours are only as good as the information they are based on. Research at the VCN lab is concerned with understanding how attention tunes information processing within our minds and brains so that, more often than not, our behaviour is guided by good information. Broadly speaking, we are interested in how attention operates, how it can be optimized, and under what situations it fails.

Much prior research has focused on dissociating attention into distinct components or abilities (e.g., the ability to attend to different aspects of sensory information or memory, and the ability to control attention in a top-down or bottom-up manner). Research at the VCN lab complements this prior work on what attention can do, by focusing on how these abilities are achieved. That is, our approach lies in identifying the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie attention. This mechanistic level of description is of particular relevance for understanding both why attention sometimes fails (e.g., in certain populations) and how to overcome these failures. To investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie attention, we employ a range of converging measures, including behaviour (reaction time, accuracy, limb tracking, and eye tracking), pupilometry, electroencephalography (EEG/ERP), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).