Fachbereichskolloquium: Dr. Dirk van Moorselaar

“Learning to search: Expectation-dependent distractor suppression and target prioritization”


13. Juli 2022 12:15 – 13. Juli 2022 13:45

Dekanatssaal, Fachbereichsgebäude, Gutenbergstraße 18, Erdgeschoss

Dr. Dirk van Moorselaar, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
“Learning to search: Expectation-dependent distractor suppression and target prioritization”

Much insight has been gained into how selective attention may filter infor-mation processing at the neural level, by directly boosting relevant information (target facilitation), and/or by suppressing irrelevant information (distractor inhibition). Yet, there is still debate as to whether target facilitation and dis-tractor inhibition are simply two sides of the same coin or whether they are controlled by distinct neural mechanisms. Recent work indicates that distrac-tor suppression only emerges when information about the distractor can be de-rived directly from experience, suggesting that suppression of distracting in-formation is in particular expectation dependent. This raises the question as to how attention and expectation interact to bias information processing. I will discuss recent findings from behavioral and EEG studies that examined how expectations about upcoming target or distractor locations and/or features in-fluence facilitatory and inhibitory effects of attention on visual information processing and representation using ERPs, multivariate decoding analyses, and inverted encoding models. Collectively, these confirm an important role for alpha oscillatory activity in town-down biasing of attention to, and sharp-ening of representations of target locations. Yet, they also show that target fa-cilitation and distractor suppression are differentially influenced by expecta-tions, and rely at least in part on different neural mechanisms, with expecta-tion-dependent distractor suppression selectively occurring after stimulus presentation.