Cortical Regulation of Attentional Capture (2012–2014)
A loud noise or bright light can draw attention involuntarily to itself, distracting us from the task at hand. Surprisingly, such involuntary attention shifts are not automatic, but depend on the observer's state; across a range of laboratory tasks whether or not a stimulus will capture attention is contingent on the task goals. In the brain, task goals are associated with frontal regions while attention is associated with parietal regions. This proposal examines the interaction of frontal and parietal regions to determine how goals influence visual and attentive processing. The experiments test competing theories of attentional control with implications for clinical populations (e.g., stroke) that have difficulty avoiding distraction.