Attention & Memory
The Attention and Memory group study a range of factors that affect human performance. One aspect of this focuses on the cognitive mechanisms involved in processing focal, task-relevant stimuli of different types (e.g., speech, faces, odours) as well as the mechanisms involved in excluding task-irrelevant stimuli, as well as those circumstances where the presence of task-irrelevant stimuli leads to distraction. The research also encompasses aspects of both long-term and short-term memory processing. As well as focussing on basic theoretical questions, the group has considerable input into applied aspects of human performance, including the effects of chewing gum on attention, the impact of brain damage on face recognition and the design of workplaces to enhance performance.
Our research is organised into three themes:
- How is information from different modalities (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory) processed in short-term memory?
- To what extent is short-term memory a by-product of other – perceptual and motor – processes?
- What factors determine our ability to resist distraction or to be unavoidably susceptible to it?
- What role do perceptual processes play in enabling us to select relevant amidst irrelevant information?
- How are we able to easily recognise so many different faces?
- What processes are involved in discriminating previously encountered objects and events (e.g., faces, odours, sounds, words) from novel ones