Welcome to the Motor Bias Project Website.
This collaborative project has been designed to precisely characterize the interaction between attention and the motor system. Humans must process an overwhelming amount of visual information with limited cognitive resources. Spatial attention allows us to select the relevant information. A metaphor for attention is that of a spotlight; only things within the ‘beam’ of attention are processed. A widely held view is that control of the spotlight is implemented by the motor system. If we wish to attend to something, we plan (but don’t necessarily execute) an action that would orient the eyes or hands to that thing. This ‘Premotor’ theory of attention has been very influential, but does not explain the full range of empirical data. This project will test a new Motor Bias theory of attention which offers a new explanation of the relationship between motor control and attention. Specifically, it is argued that movement preparation influences attention in a stochastic fashion, such that attention is more likely to be allocated to movement goals when (a) the same goal is being selected by more than one effector system, (b) the movement is close to being initiated and (c) the organism is confident that the movement will reliably acquire the desired target. Understanding the psychology of attention will also inform the development of novel rehabilitation techniques for patients with neuropsychological deficits of attention.
This project is a collaboration between Daniel T. Smith (Durham University, UK), Thomas Schenk (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany) and Stefan Van der Stigchel (Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands) and has been funded by an Open Research Area grant via ESRC, NWO and DfG – you can find more information here.
Besides the three Principal Investigators, our research team is composed of three researchers, post-doctoral and doctoral students. You can find more information about each of us by visiting the people page.
Do not hesitate to browse this website pages to find out more about our activities. And do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in our research!