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Title: The role of multisensory integration in the bottom-up and top-down control of attentional object selection
Author: Matusz, Pawel Jerzy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 6234
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Selective spatial attention and multisensory integration have been traditionally considered as separate domains in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. However, theoretical and methodological advancements in the last two decades have paved the way for studying different types of interactions between spatial attention and multisensory integration. In the present thesis, two types of such interactions are investigated. In the first part of the thesis, the role of audiovisual synchrony as a source of bottom-up bias in visual selection was investigated. In six out of seven experiments, a variant of the spatial cueing paradigm was used to compare attentional capture by visual and audiovisual distractors. In another experiment, single-frame search arrays were presented to investigate whether multisensory integration can bias spatial selection via salience-based mechanisms. Behavioural and electrophysiological results demonstrated that the ability of visual objects to capture attention was enhanced when they were accompanied by noninformative auditory signals. They also showed evidence for the bottom-up nature of these audiovisual enhancements of attentional capture by revealing that these enhancements occurred irrespective of the task-relevance of visual objects. In the second part of this thesis, four experiments are reported that investigated the spatial selection of audiovisual relative to visual objects and the guidance of their selection by bimodal object templates. Behavioural and ERP results demonstrated that the ability of task-irrelevant target-matching visual objects to capture attention was reduced during search for audiovisual as compared to purely visual targets, suggesting that bimodal search is guided by integrated audiovisual templates. However, the observation that unimodal targetmatching visual events retained some ability to capture attention indicates that bimodal search is controlled to some extent by modality-specific representations of task-relevant information. In summary, the present thesis has contributed to our knowledge of how attention is controlled in real-life environments by demonstrating that spatial selective attention can be biased towards bimodal objects via salience-driven as well as goal-based mechanisms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available