Effects of motivation on visual attention: an integrated psychophysiological approach

01 January 2019 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Biological and physiological psychology
    • General psychology
    • Other psychology and cognitive sciences
visual attention
Project description

Attention allows to attend to relevant information in the environment while suppressing irrelevant
one. It can operate based on multiple cues available at a given time. Usually a dichotomy is
proposed in the existing literature between bottom-up (or stimulus-driven) and top-down (or
goalrelated) attention control effects. Yet, changes in motivation are usually not considered in this
dominant framework, although it can profoundly influence attention. In this project, we seek to
better understand the complex interplay of attention with motivation during early sensory
processing, with a focus on the visual modality and early neural responses recorded in the visual
cortex in humans using non-invasive electro-encephalography (EEG). Across different studies
performed in healthy adult participants, we will explore and better characterize how attention
(without motivation) actually gates early visual processing, before assessing effects of motivation
per se, without concurrent changes in levels of attention control. As a last and decisive step, we will
then combine these two factors (attention and motivation) to assess the extent to which early
sensory processing is determined by both factors concurrently. Such an original research program
has the potential to inform current theoretical models of attention in psychology, but also foster a
revision of these models that would thereby better accommodate the role and function of
motivation in this utmost important cognitive process.