I am interested in attention, with a particular focus on understanding forms of attentional failure that are common to daily life – for example, becoming distracted by entirely irrelevant stimuli in the external environment, or by our own thoughts. My research addresses questions such as ‘What makes certain people particularly vulnerable to distraction?’, ‘What makes certain stimuli particularly distracting, or particularly powerful to engage our attention?’ and ‘Is distraction from both external and internal (i.e. mind-wandering) sources determined by common mechanisms?’. Another aim of my research is to establish objective laboratory correlates of subjectively reported attention problems (e.g., in the context of clinical disorders such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Read more about research in my lab here:


Lunn, J., Sjoblom, A., Ward, J., Soto-Faraco, S., & Forster, S. (2019). Multisensory enhancement of attention depends on whether you are already paying attention. Cognition187, 38-49.

Brown, C. R., Berggren, N., & Forster, S. (2018). Testing a goal-driven account of involuntary attentional capture by threat. Emotion.

Forster, S., Spence, C. (2018). “What smell?” Temporarily loading visual attention induces a prolonged loss of olfactory awareness. Psychological Science. 29(10), 1642-1652.

Brown, C.R.H.,  Forster, S.,  Duka, T. (2018). Goal-driven attentional bias towards appetitive and aversive smoking-related cues in nicotine dependent smokers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 190, 209-215.

Brown, C.R.H., Duka, T., Forster, S. (2018). Attentional capture by alcohol related stimuli may be activated involuntarily by top-down search goals. Psychopharmacology. In Press. doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4906-8

Lancaster, C., Forster, S., Tabet, N., Rusted, J. (2017) Putting attention in the spotlight: the influence of APOE genotype on visual search in mid adulthood. Behavioural Brain Research, 334, 97-104.  doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.07.015

Nord, C.L., Forster, S., Halahakoon, D.C., Penton-Voak, I.S., Munafò, M.R., Roiser, J.P. (2017) Prefrontal cortex stimulation does not affect emotional bias, but may slow emotion identification. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12(5), 839-847.  doi: 10.1093/scan/nsx007

Forster, S., & Lavie, N. (2016). Establishing the attention-distractibility trait. Psychological science, 27(2), 203-12. doi: 10.1177/0956797615617761

Forster, S., Castle, E., Nunez-Elizalde, A. O., Bishop, S.J. (2015). Unraveling the anxious mind: Anxiety, worry and frontal engagement in sustained attention versus off-task processing. Cerebral Cortex. 25 (3) 609-618. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht248

Forster, S., Nunez-Elizalde, A. O., Castle, L., Bishop, S.J. (2014). Moderate threat causes longer lasting disruption to processing in anxious individuals. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 

Bijsterbosch, J., Smith, S., Forster, S., John, O.  Bishop, S. (2014). Resting state correlates of sub-dimensions of anxious affect. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 26(4), 914-26. 

Forster, S., Robertson, D.J., Jennings, A., Asherson, P., Lavie, N. (2014). Plugging the attention deficit: Increasing perceptual load counters increased distraction in adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychology. 28(1), 91-7. 

Forster, S., Lavie, N. (2014). Distracted by your mind?: Individual differences in distractibility predict mind wandering. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. 40(1), 251-60. *APA Featured Article*

Forster, S. (2013). Distraction and mind-wandering under load. Frontiers in Psychology. 4: 283

Bishop, S.J., Forster, S. (2012). Trait anxiety, neuroticism and the brain basis of vulnerability to affective disorder. In: J. Armony, P. Vuilleumier (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Human Affective Neuroscience, Cambridge University Press, UK.

Forster, S., Lavie, N. (2011). Entirely irrelevant distractors can capture and captivate attention. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 18 (6), 1064-1070

Forster, S., Lavie, N. (2009). Harnessing the wandering mind: High perceptual load minimizes task-unrelated thoughts. Cognition. 111 (3), 345-355.

Forster, S., Lavie, N. (2008). Failures to Ignore Entirely Irrelevant Distractors: The Role of Load. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 14, 73-78.

Forster, S., Lavie, N. (2008). Attentional capture by entirely irrelevant distractors. Visual Cognition. 16(2-3), 200-214.

Forster, S., Lavie, N. (2007). High perceptual load makes everybody equal: Eliminating individual differences in distractibility with load. Psychological Science. 18(5), 377-382.