Naseem Al-Aidroos (Assistant Professor)
Departmental Profile Link:
cognitive neuroscience, visual cognition, attention, perception, memory, action, behavioural measures, eye tracking, EEG/ERP, fMRI
Our mental and physical behaviours are only as good as the information they are based on. My research is concerned with understanding how attention tunes information processing within our minds and brains so that, more often than not, our behaviour is guided by good information. Broadly speaking, I am interested in how attention operates, how it can be optimized, and under what situations it fails.
In recent years my research has touched on many aspects of attention, ranging from how it is controlled, to the effects of action video games on how we process information, to how attentional abilities decline as we grow old. To address these issues, I make use of numerous methodologies including behavioural measures, eye tracking, pupilometry, electroencephalography (EEG), event related potentials (ERPs), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship - Masters Level
NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship - Doctoral Level
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship
Significant Research Contributions:
Al-Aidroos, N., Said, C., P., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (submitted). Top-down attention switches coupling between low-level and high-level areas of human visual cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Explanation of Significance:
Attention is the fundamental cognitive ability that allows you to focus on some types of information while ignoring others. Conventionally, it is thought to operate by enhancing the part of the brain that represents the attended information (e.g., paying attention to the faces in a crowd is associated with increased neural responses in the fusiform face area of ventral visual cortex). Using a novel technique (functional magnetic resonance imaging background connectivity) I have shown that, beyond enhancing responses in localized brain areas, attention also regulates the communication between multiple brain areas, thus altering the way information flows through the brain. Much as a railroad worker switches tracks to ensure that a train reaches its destination, attention strengthens pathways to ensure that sensory input gets routed to brain regions important for extracting relevant information. This new account of attention provides a better predictor of individual differences in the ability to control attention than existing measures. Moreover, because these findings obtained non-invasively in humans provide a new concept of how attention works in the brain, they have immediate implications for how clinical disorders of attention such as ADHD are studied and diagnosed.
NSERC to N.A., National Eye Institute grant R01EY021755 to N.B.T-B
Other Research Outputs :
Qian, C., Al-Aidroos, N., West, G. L., Abrams, R. A., & Pratt, J. (2012). The visual P2 is attenuated for attended objects near the hands. Cognitive Neuroscience, 3(2), 98-104.
Radulescu, P. V., Al-Aidroos, N., Adam, J. J., Fisher, M. J., & Pratt, J. (2011). Modulating Fitts's Law: Perceiving targets at the last placeholder. Acta Psychologica, 137(1), 101-105.
West, G. L., Al-Aidroos, N., Susskind, J., & Pratt, J. (2011). Emotion and action: The effect of fear on saccadic performance. Experimental Brain Research, 209(1), 153-158.
Al-Aidroos, N., Guo, R-M., & Pratt, J. (2010). You can't stop new motion: Attentional capture despite a control set for colour. Visual Cognition, 18(6), 859-880.
Al-Aidroos, N. & Pratt, J. (2010). Top-down control in time and space: Evidence from saccadic latencies and trajectories. Visual Cognition, 18(1), 26-49.
Title of Presentation:
Top-down attention switches coupling between low-level and high-level areas of human visual cortex
Title of Presentation:
Our internal goals shape the functional architecture of human visual cortex