Main Content

Teaching/Theses

How do humans perceive and interact with the visual world? How do observers prioritize some stimuli while others go unnoticed? Which mechanisms allow organisms to learn and exploit regularities in the visual environment to guide attention efficiently? To address these and similar questions, we apply techniques such as motion-tracking (Motor Lab), eye-tracking (Gaze Lab), and EEG measurements (EEG Labs). If you are interested in working on one of our research topics (find more details on our research page), e.g., as a Bachelor or Master’s thesis, or as a research internship, you can find further information and a list of potential topics below.

 During your thesis you will:

  • acquire skills in planning and conducting an experiment in one of our research projects
  • work in close cooperation with your supervisor to discuss the theoretical background and to develop a research question
  • be introduced to our laboratories, equipment, and analysis methods
  • conduct an experiment, analyze and evaluate the results
  • receive advice and support throughout all stages of your thesis

We offer topics in the following research areas for bachelor and master theses as well as for internships.

  • Topics in “Determining priority in visual selection” [learn more]
  • Topics in “Visual information sampling” [learn more]
  • Topics in “Motor-planning and coordination in single and joint action” [learn more]

If you are interested, please contact one of the contact persons listed in the project descriptions. 

 

Topics in “Determining priority in visual selection”

The influence of prior experience on visual attention

Method: Behavioral & EEG
Project: Learning & visual attention
Contact: Dion Henare, Hossein Abbasi, Anna Schubö
Abstract: The visual environment contains many interesting objects that compete for the visual attention of an observer. Classical studies provided evidence that bottom-up mechanisms and goal-directed top-down control work together to guide attention to interesting objects in the visual scene. Recently, selection history (Awh et al., 2012) has been introduced as another factor that can bias visual attention. In this project we will examine the impact of learning and prior experience on attentional selection. We will use a paradigm that combines two tasks to manipulate the observer’s learning experience (Feldmann-Wüstefeld et al., 2015). Behavioral measures and EEG will allow us to investigate the efficiency of learning and its influence on attention.

How value affects visual search

Method: Behavioral & EEG
Project: Interaction between informational and motivational value
Contact: Dion Henare, Anna Schubö
Abstract:
When faced with a scene full of objects, how do we decide where to focus our attention? There are many factors which influence this decision, and in this project we will focus on the role of value. One way that an item’s value could be determined is by the size of the reward that it’s associated with; we call this motivational value. An item’s value could also be related to how informative it is about your current goals; we call this informational value. In this project you will have participants perform visual search tasks while manipulating both the motivational and informational value of the objects that they see. By recording their behavior and their neural activity, we will attempt to understand how the human visual system uses value to guide attention. We hope to examine this in less structured, more natural environments.

The influence of semantic learning on visual attention

Method: Behavioral & EEG
Project: Semantic learning and attention deployment
Contact: Yun Yun Mu, Geun Hyun Kim, Anna Schubö
Abstract:
Have you ever noticed that shoes capture your attention more than they usually do after you have spent some time looking at them in a store, trying to decide which ones to buy? How can we understand this phenomenon? Scientific studies have shown that spending more time with processing simple visual features (such as color) results in subsequent attention capture by that feature, even in a completely different task. In this thesis we want to investigate what role semantic experience plays in attention capture. You will conduct experiments on semantic categorization and examine the effect on attentional selection with behavioral measures and/or attention markers in the EEG.

Visual Attention Capture in Children and Adults with ADHD

Methodik: Behavioral
Projekt: Visual Attention and ADHD
Ansprechpartner: Philipp Berg, Hanna Christiansen, Anna Schubö
Abstract: ADHS stellt ein heterogenes und vielschichtiges Krankheitsbild dar, dessen Entstehung bisher nicht geklärt ist und in der aktuellen Forschung diskutiert wird. ADHS zeichnet sich unter anderem dadurch aus, dass Betroffene veränderte Reaktionen auf Belohnungen und belohnung assoziierte Reize zeigen. Ziel des Projektes ist es, diese Veränderungen und deren Auswirkung auf die visuelle Aufmerksamkeit zu untersuchen. Zum Einsatz kommen Paradigmen der kognitiven Psychologie, die sich mit dem impliziten Einfluss von Belohnung auf die Aufmerksamkeitsausrichtung befassen.

 

Topics in “Visual information sampling”

Visual Foraging with Realistic Actions

Method: Behavioral (Stylus on tablet PC) & Eye-Tracking
Project: Visual foraging as a tool for understanding attentional strategies
Contact: Jan Tünnermann, Kevin Hartung, Anna Schubö
Abstract:
For humans and other organisms, visual foraging is an important behavior to acquire necessary resources (e.g. food). Active vision and visual attention facilitate selecting objects, especially in crowded scenes, for instance, when picking blueberries from a bush in the woods. Therefore, foraging tasks provide a valuable tool to examine attentional control. We use a large tablet PC with precision touch and stylus responses and multi-item stimulus displays to implement foraging tasks. The touch responses are natural actions that entail realistic task planning and execution costs. We will examine how various strategic factors and attention are combined in visual foraging to allow optimal sampling behavior. A combination with eye-tracking is possible as well. Further background and reading can be found on our “visual foraging” and “actions under contextual and attentional influences” project pages.

Target choice in dynamically changing environments

Method: Behavioral & Eye-Tracking
Project: Target choice in dynamically changing environments
Contact: Jan Tünnermann, Yun Yun Mu, Anna Schubö
Abstract: Visual attention is driven by our goals and intentions, but also by interesting events in our environment. If the visual environment changes gradually, observers can potentially adjust to regularities of these changes and make strategic use of them. For instance, if observers can choose between different targets (e.g., a red one or a blue one), they might prefer targets dissimilar to distracting elements. If these distracting elements change predictably over time (e.g., the number of bluish distractors decreases while that of reddish ones increases), observers might adjust their target preference accordingly, switching from one target color to the other. Theses in this area set out to investigate the influence of such environmental changes on eye movements and target choice behavior.

Implicit learning in visual search

Method: Behavioral & Eye-Tracking
Project: Context learning and visual attention
Contact: Nils Bergmann, Anna Schubö
Abstract: In visual search for a particular target stimulus in a context of distractors, search performance depends on previous experience with similar contexts. Repeated presentation of the same visual context accelerates visual search, although the observer might not be aware of this regularity. When driving through your home town, for instance, you attend to critical spots and traffic signs spontaneously, while driving through unknown regions requires more effort. This project will investigate how different forms of visual contexts modulate this implicit learning effect. We will conduct visual search tasks and record the participants’ eye movements gaining insights in visual attention guidance.

 

Topics in “Motor-planning and coordination in single and joint action”

Action coordination in joint action

Method: Behavioral, Motion Tracking, maybe EEG
Project: Motor Coordination in Joint Action
Contact: Jan Tünnermann, Hossein Abbasi, Anna Schubö
Abstract: When people perform a joint action task, they spontaneously coordinate their attention, cognition and action in time and space. Joint action paradigms explore the cognitive and neural processes underlying joint action behavior. Theses in this area will mainly use motor joint action tasks to study coordination, while behavioral, motion, and/or eye movements are recorded.

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