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Distraction and recovery from distraction: a neurocognitive approach


Establishing and maintenance of goal-directed behaviour is governed by control processes coordinating the deployment of attention, working memory and response activities. Rare, unpredictable but task-irrelevant events capture our attention, which leads to a performance loss in the task. Normal functioning of the cognitive system is characterized by a balance between maintenance of the goal-directed behaviour and involuntary orientation towards unpredictable task-irrelevant stimulation.

The goal of the proposed research project is the systematic investigation of psychological processes contributing to distraction and recovery from distraction. By using novel experimental paradigms and utilizing the method of event-related potentials (ERPs), we are going to separate attention and task-related aspects of these phenomena. We are also going to specify the functional role of a recently discovered ERP component, the reorienting negativity, which is thought to reflect the processes playing a role in recovery from distraction. By using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and source localization techniques, the anatomical localization of the generator structures of the component will also be carried out. Beyond their basic scientific significance, the results can contribute to a better understanding of attention-related disorders, and provide a useful basis for the development of a paradigm for diagnostic purposes.

The project will expand our knowledge on attention and working memory-related topics. In the host institution we will receive hands-on training in all stages of high-density EEG and MEG methodology. This expertise will welcome at Budapest, where high-density EEG amplifiers will be functional in the near future. We will also contribute to the development of scientific tools and methods for such analyses. The host institute will also profit from our expertise in auditory processing. We will teach at the international PhD program of the host institute.

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