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Title: Biases in information processing across perception and working memory
Author: Wildegger, Theresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 4036
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Research over the last decades has demonstrated an enormous flexibility of attentional mechanisms in the human brain and has revealed many forms of biases across perception and working memory. In this thesis, I extend our knowledge of the flexible role of attention, and ways in which information processing can be biased to guide perception and working memory (WM). In the General Introduction, I review perceptual, WM and attention literature to describe our current understanding of the many biases across different stages of information processing. In Chapter 2, I present a study that uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to contrast and compare neural mechanisms supporting spatial and feature-based attentional selection. Neural signatures of preparatory attention revealed that comparable neural mechanisms support both kinds of attention. However, brain activity is modulated relatively more globally for feature-based compared to spatial attention, consistent with representational differences between feature and spatial information. In Chapter 3, I describe four Experiments exploring the impact of incoming sensory information, presented supraliminally or subliminally, on performance in a WM task and a visuomotor priming task. While both subliminal and supraliminal information shaped performance in the visuomotor priming task, WM representations appeared to be protected against subliminal influences and performance was only affected by information presented supraliminally. In Chapter 4, I present three Experiments that examine how bottom-up stimulus differences during encoding modulate top-down attentional effects in WM. The results reveal that benefits of retrospective attentional selection in WM persist regardless of the quality of sensory information, but the underlying mechanisms vary along with changes in stimulus properties during encoding. In Chapter 5, the General Discussion, I place the results of this work in their wider context, and discuss limitations and future directions.
Supervisor: Nobre, Anna ; Humphreys, Glyn Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available