Brown Bag Talk by A/P Christopher L. Asplund on 5 September



Speaker: A/P Christopher L. Asplund

Title: Don’t be surprised: Unexpected events reveal much about the control of attention

Date: 5 September 2014, 1-2pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Attention is the process by which we select and enhance some information for further cognitive processing. Although attention is often under our control (voluntary), it can also be powerfully captured by unexpected events in the environment. Yet for coherent behavior to emerge, the control of attention has to be coordinated. In this talk, I will explore what we have learned about attentional control from the Surprise-induced Blindness paradigm, in which the presentation of a novel, unexpected, and task-irrelevant stimulus virtually abolishes conscious detection of a target presented within half a second after the ‘Surprise’ stimulus. The neural correlates of the effect suggest that the lateral prefrontal cortex underlies the coordination of attention, whereas numerous behavioral studies have allowed us to better understand the factors influencing the trade-off between staying on task and attending to what is new. These factors include instruction, experience, and individual differences in related attentional limitations.

About the Speaker:

Chris Asplund is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College. He earned his AB in Cognitive Psychology from Princeton University in 2003, having spent part of his undergraduate career at University College London and Ohio State. His interest in the neural basis of cognition then led him to René Marois’ lab at Vanderbilt University, where he studied the limits of human attention, working memory, and reasoning using both behavioral measures and functional neuroimaging (fMRI). Soon after receiving his PhD in 2010, he moved to Singapore, where he was a Research Fellow working with Michael Chee at Duke-NUS. He joined Yale-NUS in May 2013.

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