Keynote Two: Mechanisms of selective attention in health and disease (SummerFest 2016)

Prof. Jason B. Mattingley


Speaker: Professor Jason B. Mattingley, Queensland Brain Institute and School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Australia
Date: 21 July 2016, Thursday
Time: 17:00-18:00
Venue: Lecture Theater 1, Meng Wah Complex, HKU
Chair: Professor William Hayward, School of Psychology, The University of Auckland


Despite the enormous information processing capacity of the human brain, there are surprisingly tight constraints on the amount of incoming sensory information that can be handled at any one time. Mechanisms of attention allow us to prioritise just those sensory inputs that are currently relevant for guiding behaviour, and to filter out irrelevant distractions. At the same time, highly distinctive or salient events in the environment tend to capture attention automatically, thus interrupting ongoing cognitive processing. In this talk I will consider the brain networks thought to be responsible for these two key aspects of attention: voluntary (‘top-down’) control and stimulus-driven (‘bottom-up’) capture. I will focus in particular on recent research from my own laboratory, in which we have combined carefully controlled behavioural measures of attention with brain imaging and brain stimulation techniques. While much of our work focuses on the healthy human brain, I will also discuss experiments in which we have applied these approaches to understanding sensory and attention deficits in neurological patients with acquired brain pathologies.