Ambiguity and Attention in the real world

28. September 2016
CITEC, Raum: 1.204

Wolfgang Einhäuser-Treyer, TU Chemnitz, Physik kognitiver Prozesse

In real-life situations, we continuously process complex and ambiguous stimuli, select relevant information, make decisions, and execute appropriate actions. The first part of my talk will focus on multi‑stable stimuli as model for such processing. Specific emphasis will be given to “no-report” paradigms, which allow measuring an observer’s perceptual experience without demanding their explicit report. This is critical when considering effects of attention and value on perception as well as when studying the direct effects of action on perceptual representations. In this context, pupillometry suggests a common neural substrate for resolving perceptual ambiguity and cognitive decision-making under uncertainty. Perceptual ambiguity will be interpreted as an example for a competitive process and thereby connected to selective attention, which can be viewed as combination of competition and priority control (“biased competition”). Consequently, the second part of my talk will address gaze orientation as proxy for the allocation of attention in natural scenes and real-life situations. The role of features for attentional guidance will be quantified: although features control attention to some extent, objects and task are the primary drivers of attention. During real-life behaviour, the environment imposes additional constraints, which are virtually impossible to mimic in the laboratory. These constraints manifest themselves in implicit tasks, like gait control on uneven terrain, that in turn have a profound influence on gaze. Extending on such results, I will demonstrate of applications of mobile gaze and pupil tracking, such as diagnosis of neurological and psychiatric disorders and communication with patients, whose motor functions are severely impaired.