Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Lecture by Arianna Zuanazzi: The intricate interplay
of spatial attention and expectation – A multisensory perspective
Attention and expectation are two critical mechanisms for guiding perceptual processes. Top-down attention favours efficient allocation of cognitive resources by prioritising relevant signals. Expectation facilitates perception by generating plausible templates of the forthcoming signals.
Previous studies showed that both attention and expectation facilitate perception at the behavioural level. Yet, they are associated with distinct neural effects, with attention increasing the neural response to external stimuli and expectation attenuating it. However, as these studies manipulated attention via stimulus probability, they confounded attention and expectation.
In this talk, I will discuss the intricate interplay of spatial attention and expectation, from a behavioural and neural perspective. First, I will show how seemingly contradictory additive and interactive behavioural effects of spatial attention and expectation can in fact be parsimoniously explained by recognizing that attention and expectation jointly co-determine the probabilities that a signal requires a response. Second, I will discuss the extent to which spatial attention and expectation operate ‘amodally’, i.e. by similarly recruiting lower sensory areas and association cortices for signals in different sensory modalities. I will present evidence showing that spatial attention relies on ‘amodal’ brain mechanisms, whereas spatial expectation operates in a more modality-specific fashion
Event location: Think Tank, 4th floor