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PhD ceremony Mr. S.M. Wierda: Less is more. Strategic restrictions in temporal attention

When:We 05-02-2014 at 11:00
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Mr. S.M. Wierda

Dissertation: Less is more. Strategic restrictions in temporal attention

Promotor(s): prof. A. Aleman, prof. N.A. Taatgen

Faculty: Medical Sciences

Due to the ongoing advancement of various technologies, we are constantly faced with new challenges and digest an ever-increasing amount of information. Nowadays, we are connected 24/7 through devices such as the tablet or smartphone. But how do we determine which information is relevant? Scientists are exploring the boundaries of human’s information processing capability by putting the brain under pressure: in a short amount of time a large amount of information - relevant and irrelevant - is presented to an observer. Most people are incapable of reporting all the relevant information when presented in a short period of time. In such a case, a so-called attentional blink occurs (when you blink your eyes, you cannot see for a brief second; when you blink your attention, you cannot process information for a brief second). For decades, researchers regarded this attentional blink as the result of a fundamental bottleneck in information processing. In this thesis, we show that the attentional blink does not arise from a fundamental bottleneck. Instead, it seems to reflect the brain’s strategic but possibly suboptimal decision to ignore relevant information in an attempt to facilitate the processing of preceding information.

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