Research objectives and content My goal is to bring together two productive but previously disparate areas of research; mechanisms of face perception and of attention. By adapting emerging methods in the study of attention, my aim is to answer three questions. First, how does normal attention influence the perception and recognition of faces? Second, can face perception automatically direct visual attention? Third, how does a neuropsychological attentional deficit (i.e. neglect) influence face perception, and how does gaze perception conversely influence pathological attention? On the first issue, the planned experiments will test whether face processing varies with the level of attention paid. The second question will be answered by manipulating aspects of the face stimulus and thus determining which cues are critical for directing the viewer's attention. Finally, although neglect patients are usually unaware of the contralesional side of a face, information from this side may be still implicitly available to guide their shift of attention to where a seen face is looking. The research results should have implication for the quality of life, as they may suggest effective means for directing people's attention, and for possible neglect rehabilitation.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact) I will receive a broad interdisciplinary knowledge training in cognitive psychology, neuropsychology and neuroscience, while enrolled for a Ph.D. degree.