EEG recording device on model heads.

Our Research

Research

Mechanisms of Attention

What are the mechanisms by which attention influences perception of simple and complex stimuli? We are interested in determining the behavioural and neural activity associated with pure measures of attentional selection and orienting. By using simple response-based tasks and EEG, we can examine the relative differences when attending to sensor events in order to better understand the basic mechanisms of human attention and their behavioural and neural correlates.

Dr. Chris Blair wearing an EEG recording device and sitting in a chair.
Dr. Chris Blair wearing an EEG recording device and participating in an EEG study.

Jessica sitting in a chair wearing eye tracking glasses. There is a red dot near her chin that represents the pupil fixation of her interaction partner.
Jessica Haight engaging in a dyadic interaction while wearing Tobii Pro mobile eye tracking glasses. The red circle is her partner's pupil fixation.

A heat map of eye movement and proportions data. Shows that looking time is primarily directed towards eyes and mouth.
A heat map of eye movement and proportions data collected in Dr. Francesca Capozzi, Dr. Lauren Human, and Dr. Jelena Ristic's paper "Attention promotes accurate impression formation."

Social Attention

Research suggests that attention to social information is unique and distinct as compared to attention to other objects. In this manner, social attention can help us interpret social information by enabling the comprehension of subtle visual signals, e.g., eye gaze direction. We are investigating whether social attention is a unique process by examining its basic properties as well as its relationship with other social cognitive processes like group membership and identity.

Studying social attention also allows us to examine how we attend to social information in a real-world environment, rather than in a lab setting. We are using eye tracking to examine how we attend and respond to simple low-level stimuli or more complex everyday natural scenes and movie clips. By using this approach, we can estimate the units of social attention to understand the effects that environmental complexity has on social orienting.

A heat map of eye tracking data. Shows attention to the face of two guys sitting down and looking down.
A heat map of eye tracking data from Dr. Francesca Capozzi, Dr. Nida Latif, and Dr. Jelena Ristic's paper, "It's not all in the face: reduced face visibility does not modulate social attention."

Painting of Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-August Renior
Image by Renior, Pierre-August (1881). Luncheon of the Boating Party. [Painting]. The Philips Collection, Washington, D.C., United States. Licensed under Attribution
Pierre-August Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party" painting illustrates differential social cues in a group interaction.

Jelena looking at a computer screen of a group of people interacting.
Monitoring the social attention of Dr. Jelena Ristic as she observes a group interaction on a screen.

 

 

Interactive Cognition

 

Schematic of a set up used to investigate social attention in complex interactions. Four people sit facing each other. There is a camera positioned behind each person.
Schematic of a set up used to investigate social attention in complex interactions. From Dr. Francesca Capozzi et al's paper, "Tracking the Leader: Gaze Behavior in Group Interactions."

Dr. Francesca Capozzi (left), Dr. Jelena Ristic (middle), and Dr. Effie Pereira (right) sitting around a desk and talking.
Dr. Francesca Capozzi (left), Dr. Jelena Ristic (middle), and Dr. Effie Pereira (right) engaging in a group interaction.

A social interaction with the participant's eyes being tracked with glasses. Two people sit facing each other.
A social interaction with the participant's eyes being tracked with glasses (see arrow) from Dr. Francesca Capozzi and Dr. Jelena Ristic's paper, "How attention gates social interactions."

Picture of a lap top keyboard

Learn more about what we are working on!

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