Current Research Topics
1. Attention and Awareness
Our sensory environment contains a vast quantity of information, only a fraction of which can guide behaviour. Brain mechanisms of attention are crucial for enhancing the processing of stimuli that are behaviourally relevant and for minimising distraction. We use behavioural paradigms, TMS, MEG and fMRI (including multivoxel pattern analysis methods) to understand the cognitive neuroscience of attentional control, within and between the sensory modalities of vision and touch. The questions we are aiming to answer include:
- How do regions in the frontal and parietal cortex modulate competitive interactions between stimuli in the visual cortex?
- Do the same mechanisms of top-down attentional control operate within and between sensory modalities? Is there a ‘supramodal’ attention system?
- Which visual pathways and mechanisms are crucial for attention and conscious awareness?
- What is the genotypic basis of selective attention in humans?
- How is the conscious experience of visual after-effects modulated by context and attention?
- How may attentional deficits contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease?
Current external collaborations:
Dr Sven Bestmann (University College London), Dr Mark Bellgrove (University of Queensland), Prof. Jon Driver (University College London), Dr Elena Rusconi (University of Trento), Dr Christian Ruff (University of Zurich), Prof. Andy Smith (Royal Holloway, University of London), Dr Mark Stokes (University of Oxford), Dr Mark Williams (Macquarie University), Bob Rafal (Bangor)
2. Cognitive Control
Neural mechanisms of cognitive control enable us to coordinate, execute, and update behaviour. The prefrontal cortex has long been associated with cognitive control but how control is actually acheived is one of the great unsolved mysteries in cognitive neuroscience. Within the broad field of cognitive control (or ‘executive functions’), the questions we are aiming to answer include (see our individual websites for more details):
- How do automatic response impulses interact with controlled behaviour?
- How do prefrontal and parietal cortex support cognitive control in the human brain?
- How are action decisions made?
- How do neural mechanisms of response inhibition interact with functionally related processes, such as response selection, attention, working memory, and risk-taking behaviour?
- How do neural mechanisms of cognitive control and emotional regulation interact with one another?
- What is the balance between specialisation and adaptive coding in the human prefrontal cortex?
Current external collaborations:
Masud Husain (UCL), Richard Edden (John Hopkins, Baltimore), Robin Walker (Royal Holloway), Iain Gilchrist (Bristol), Frederick Verbruggen (Exeter), Dr Adam Aron (University of California, San Diego), Dr Mark Bellgrove (University of Queensland)
3. TMS Methods development and TMS-MRI
The combination of TMS and neuroimaging (MRI, EEG) provides a unique window on human brain function, with broad applications and implications across the cognitive and clinicil neurosciences. See Imaging Science pages for more details.
Frederic Boy, C. John Evans, Richard A. E. Edden, Krish D. Singh, Masud Husain and Petroc Sumner. (2010) Individual differences in subconscious motor control predicted by GABA concentration in SMA. Current Biology, in press
Verbruggen, F., Aron, A. R., Stevens, M.A., & Chambers, C.D. (2010) Theta burst stimulation dissociates attention and action updating in human inferior frontal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 107, 13966-139671. [pdf]
Sumner, P. Edden, RAE. Bompas, A. Evans, CJ and Singh, K.D. (2010) More GABA, less distraction: A neurochemical predictor of motor decision speed. Nature Neuroscience, 13, 825-827. [pdf]
Boy, F. Husain, M. and Sumner, P. (2010) Unconscious inhibition separates two forms of cognitive control. PNAS, 107, 11134–11139. [pdf]
Chambers, C.D., Garavan, H. & Bellgrove, M.A. (2009). Insights into the neural basis of response inhibition from cognitive and clinical neuroscience. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 33, 631-646. [pdf]
Bellgrove, M.A, Johnson, K.A., Barry, E., Mulligan, A., Hawi, Z., Gill, M., Robertson, I.H. & Chambers, C.D. (2009). Dopaminergic haplotype as a predictor of spatial inattention in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66, 1135-1142. [pdf]
Bompas, A. and Sumner, P. (2009). Temporal dynamics of saccadic distraction. Journal of Vision. 9(9):17, 1–14. [pdf]
Schenkluhn, B.M., Ruff, C.C., Heinen, K. & Chambers, C.D. (2008). Parietal stimulation decouples spatial and feature-based attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 11106-11110. [pdf]
Online Links and Resources
Chambers, C.D., Singh, K., Wise, R., Jones, D., Jiles, D, & Bestmann, S. Academic Expertise For Business grant (Welsh Assembly) ‘The integrated brain imaging and stimulation project (IBIS)’, 2010-2013 (£349,885)
Chambers, C.D. BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (U.K.), ‘Investigating the neural basis of selective attention in the human brain: A combined neurodisruption and neuroimaging study, 2006-2011 (£421,754)
Chambers, C.D. & Driver, J. BBSRC Project Grant (U.K.), ‘Multisensory dynamics of selective attention in the human brain: A combined neurodisruption and neuroimaging project’, 2007-2011 (£403,884)
Bellgrove, M.A. & Chambers, C.D. ARC Project Grant (Australia), 'The cognitive neuroscience of executive control: behavioural, physiological and genetic mechanisms’, 2007-2010 ($319,000)
Petroc Sumner, Masud Husain, Krish Singh, Bob Rafal. Wellcome Trust. See it, grab it: Control of automatic sensorimotor behaviour in health and disease. 2009-2012 (£426 191).
Petroc Sumner and Aline Bompas. ESRC Is perceived colour altered when we move our eyes. 2009-2010 (£82 039).