How do we control our attention? How do we ignore or suppress distracting information?

Imagine yourself attending a talk. You are interested in the topic, and your goal is to attend this talk with enthusiasm. However, two people behind you are starting to chat about the final episode of your favorite TV show. Critically, you have not watched this episode so far. How do you control your attention to focus on the talk while ignoring the discussion about the TV show? How do you select the relevant information from the distracting information in order to achieve your current goal? The cognitive processes behind such behaviors are typically referred to as attentional control, cognitive control, or executive functions. The goal of this research group is to investigate these processes. In particular, we are interested in the following questions:

  • How can we measure attentional control in a reliable and valid way?
  • How do we implement attentional control?
  • How do we implement attentional control in interaction with the other core cognitive processes (e.g., memory and processing speed)?
  • How does attentional control differ between the individuals (inter-individual variability)?
  • How does attentional control differ within the individuals (intra-individual variability)?

To respond to these questions, we integrate the experimental approach with a correlational/individual-differences approach. In each project, we apply an innovative and rigorous methodology, and we perform state-of-the-art modeling analyses (e.g., structural equation modeling). To draw solid conclusions, we also aim to test representative samples of participants using not only lab-based studies but also online-based studies. Moreover, we adhere to the Open-Science movement in different ways. For example, we share the data, the experiment materials, the scripts analyses, and the results. We also preregister our studies, and we upload the preprints and postprints.

In sum, our overall goal is to gain a better insight into how we are cognitively flexible and how we adapt ourselves to our current goals. This is important to understand human behaviour.

Dr Alodie Rey-MermetDr Alodie Rey-MermetPrincipal Investigator
M Sc Niels Oliver KempkensM Sc Niels Oliver KempkensPhD Candidate

Research projects of the group

The current challenge in attentional-control research: Establishing reliable and valid measures

Faculty of Psychology