Danai Papadaki

Project Title: Dealing with irrelevant information: an inter-domain examination of visual perception and cognitive psychology approaches

Our ability to process and respond to relevant information is affected by the presence of additional irrelevant and potentially conflicting information. This is highly germane to our times, where information cluttering is enormous (e.g. computers, media). Thus, a clear understanding of this process becomes paramount. Previous research has shown that irrelevant nearby objects (‘flankers’) substantially interfere with the processing of a target object. However, two dominant domains in psychology approach the topic differently. Thus, there is a need to assess if the two describe the same underlying mechanism or if there are two distinct sources of interference.

Cognitive psychology utilises the Eriksen flanker task: it assesses the ability to process the relevant and ignore the irrelevant, implicating executive functions subserved by the frontal cortex.

Visual perception describes Crowding: the condition under which recognition of objects in clutter becomes impossible suggesting that flanker induced interference occurs in the visual (occipital) cortex.

Both tasks use similar paradigms yet have substantially different and non-overlapping interpretations. The outcome of this project will not only help uncover the commonality of mechanisms, but may also provide insights how to better arrange information in applications such as digital displays or for older adults.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Psychology

University: University of Aberdeen

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