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Department of Cognitive Science

Cogntive Science Alumni

Laura Hughes

Laura Hughes

Thesis Details

Visual attention and the parietal lobes.

The aim of my research is to investigate the visual attention mechanisms of the parietal lobes. Presently I am investigating two types of visual attention: attention for spatial awareness (attention to where objects are in relation to the environment) and attention for visually guided actions (attention to an object in order to physically manipulate it). Dissociations between these two types of attention have been highlighted in patient case studies and also with neurologically normal subjects. Patients with visual spatial neglect, when asked to point to the centre of a bar, misperceived the centre but did not when asked to pick it up (Robertson et al, 1995; Edwards & Humphreys, 1999). This dissociation has also been demonstrated with neurologically normal subjects. Subjects asked to estimate the centre of a bar often misperceived it when visual illusions were used to distort their perception yet when asked to reach for the same bar, under the same illusory conditions, the grasping action did not show such susceptibility (e.g. Ellis et al, 1999; Mon-Williams & Bull 2000). My research intends to explore this dissociation, between visual spatial attention and attention for visually guided actions, further. I intend to investigate whether the parietal lobes subserves one attention mechanism which can be manipulated by frame of reference, or whether there are several independent mechanisms which can be utilized depending on the task. I hypothesize that different neural areas play critical roles in orienting these different types of attention, yet they are interlinked and cognitively difficult to separate. Ultimately I aim to further understanding of deficits in visual attention and discuss new methods for rehabilitation techniques.

  • Type: PhD
  • Scholarship : iMurs
  • Supervisors : Dr Tim Bates (internal) and Dr Anne Aimola Davies (external).

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