Research Interests

How do top-down and bottom-up attention work together to shape our perception of the environment?

There is a classic dichotomy in attention between endogenous (i.e., "voluntary") attention, and exogenous "capture" of attention. These two types of attention are theorized to arise from separate neural pathways, existing in parallel. By using behavioral and electrophysiological research methods, it is possible to understand how these networks work independently and - more importantly - together to influence perception.

Keefe and Stormer 2021.pdf
Keefe, Pokta, and Stormer, 2021.pdf

How does attention work across sensory modalities?

While we typically think of attention in the visual domain, it operates in all modalities. We can attend to the music we listen to, the flavors of the foods we eat, and the feeling of a tap on our shoulder. However, we don't know as much about how attention operates in these modalities and especially about how it operates across them. Therefore, studying how we attend to auditory and visual stimuli can tell us a great deal about the inherent characteristics and neural bases of attention.

How does emotionally valenced information capture attention?

The emotional valence of stimuli and arousal state of participants affects performance on attention tasks; in fact, even transient states such as hunger can have appreciable effects on how stimuli are processed. Understanding how and why emotional valence creates these changes, and finding support for a holistic model of affect and emotion, would make great strides in progressing the studies of both topics.

Keefe, Sy, Tong, and Zald, 2019.pdf
Keefe and Zald, 2020.pdf