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Title: Flexible use of attentional templates to guide adaptive behavior
Author: Boettcher, Sage E. P.
ISNI:       0000 0005 0291 5789
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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Attentional templates are the mental representations that we use to facilitate efficient ongoing behavior, including the detection and identification of task-relevant sensory input. These templates are traditionally studied within the context of visual search. In this case, a template containing target-defining features is used to guide attention to possible targets. In this doctoral thesis, I will expand the concept of the attentional template in several important ways, on the basis of an inter-related series of empirical studies. I propose that templates carry information along several dimensions in addition to item identity, such as space, time, and associated actions. I further demonstrate that attentional templates are adaptable and action-oriented. They do not necessarily represent the veridical properties of the target item, but rather are adapted to better serve future behavior. Additionally, I show that attentional templates can be retrieved from associations in memory, rather than being explicitly provided as in more conventional tasks. In the General Introduction I review past literature related to attentional templates. Moreover, I list the axes I consider necessary for the study of attentional templates. Chapters 2 through 5 describe empirical studies probing the nature and flexibility of attentional templates. In Chapter 2, I investigate the behavioral benefits and electrophysiological signatures of memory-guided identity-based anticipation. In Chapter 3, I probe the extent to which attentional templates retrieved through memory associations can be adapted to task demands and differ from veridical representations. In Chapter 4, I explore whether and when prospective actions are incorporated into the attentional template. Finally, in Chapter 5, I test whether spatiotemporal information can be incorporated into an attentional template during a dynamic visual search task. Across these studies, the results reveal the flexible nature of attentional templates that are used to guide our behavior. In the General Discussion I place these results in a wider context and suggest potential avenues for continued research.
Supervisor: van Ede, Freek ; Stokes, Mark ; Nobre, Anna Christina Sponsor: Clarendon Fund ; Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship ; Wellcome Trust ; Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cognitive Psychology ; Experimental Psychology