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 top-down, or "voluntary" attention, and bottom-up "capture" of attention. These two types of attention are theorized to arise from separate neural pathways, existing in parallel and interacting when necessary. By using behavioral and electrophysiological research methods, it is possible to understand how these networks work independently and - much more importantly - together to influence our perception.

How does attention work across 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 emotion affect 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 is able to create these changes, and finding support for a holistic model of affect and emotion, would make great strides in progressing the studies of both topics.