Attention control and specifically distractor suppression is a fundamental process that is called upon in a variety of scenarios. In fact, different scenarios might also depend on our inherent ‘inability’ to suppress distractors (imagine crossing the road while focusing on your phone…). However, our ability to efficiently suppress irrelevant information is affected by a number of factors such as brain trauma (or brain health more generaly), expression of specific traits such as Autism or Psychosis tendencies or in neurodevelopmental disorder (e.g., ADHD). The work in the lab utilises a variety of methodologies including brain stimulation (TMS/ tDCS) and brain imaging (fMRI) together with behavioural investigations and follows a three-thronged approach in order to better understand atypical attention control:
1. Specify the cognitive processes involved in attention control and distractor suppression, and assess how they are modulated by individual differences
2. Identify the brain mechanisms that underlie these capacities and understand how they are modulated by individual differences
3. Attempt to manipulate attention processes either by applying cognitive training or brain stimulation as means for rehabilitation/modulation of atypical attention
The fundamental impetus behind the studies we conduct is the notion that our capacity for attention control and distractor suppression is strongly linked to other tasks – from motor control to social decision making. We therefore understand attention as a domain-general component that can have an overarching effect on behaviour, and whose understanding and modulations have the potential to be transformative in a variety of contexts and syndromes.