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Distraction and task-performance optimization: an integrative neurocognitive approach (ATTENTVSDISTRACT)
Start date: Apr 1, 2009, End date: Mar 31, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Giving adequate responses to infrequent, unpredictable events occurring in the environment is crucial in many tasks in everyday life (e.g. driving a car, etc.). Such events draw our attention away from the task at hand, or make the use of infrequently used response alternatives necessary, and thereby often lead to a temporary performance loss: responses are slower and more mistakes are made. Most studies focus on the question how the chain of processing events related to distraction triggered by infrequent, unpredictable stimuli unfolds. However, to understand how these distraction-related processes counteract or change task-related processing, one has to consider how performance is optimized in the given task. The goal of the present project is to investigate these processes in the auditory domain, using an integrative approach, which takes both distraction and task-performance optimization into account.By using novel experimental paradigms, behavioral measurements, and high-density EEG recordings, we are going to investigate how task-related attention builds on and influences sensory processing using the concept of attentional templates. We are going to investigate how task-related selective attention sets can be maintained despite the presence of occasional distracting stimuli, that is, what mechanisms are used to shield ourselves and to recover from distraction. Furthermore, we will investigate how stimulus-response translation-related processes contribute to streamlining task-performance. The project will expand our knowledge on auditory perception, attention- and executive functions-related topics. Beyond their basic scientific significance, the results will contribute to a better understanding of attention-related disorders and age-related changes in task-related performance and attention."
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