“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin
Our research probes relationships between motivation, emotion, and attentional control, focusing particularly on how they shape what we see and remember. We also study how their interactions affect psychological and physical well-being.
Current research in our lab falls under the following broad categories:
We seek to understand the processes and mechanisms by which emotionally powerful stimuli impair awareness of items that immediately follow. Our research aims to elucidate mechanisms driving emotional distraction and to reconcile discrepancies in the literature, such as why emotion sometimes impairs perception and sometimes facilitates it.
Attention and Awareness
We investigate the central role of attention in shaping awareness. Visual perception is as much a function of the mind as of the eyes, and perception is impoverished without attention. Our research examines inattentional blindness and other phenomena that contribute to our understanding of the link between attention and conscious perception.
We probe tensions between the power of the individual and the power of the environment in controlling how people pay attention. Our research examines strategies, emotions, and individual differences that determine the degree to which people can exert control over their experience of the world.
Stress and Cognition
We investigate how stress impacts cognition and how such effects are modulated by individual differences. Our research aims to delineate which cognitive functions are most affected by stress and to suggest possible ways to minimise stress-related impairments of cognition.
Distraction and Road Safety
We apply basic attention research towards understanding of the consequences of distraction on the roadways, in collaboration with our colleagues at UNSW’s Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation and the ARRB Group.