Sussex Neuroscience

Dr Sophie Forster

Sophie ForsterCognitive neuroscience of attention, distraction and mind wandering

Research in my lab uses cognitive psychology and neuroscience techniques (fMRI and EEG) to study attention, with a particular focus on understanding forms of attentional failure that are common to daily life. For example, why is it that we sometimes become distracted by entirely irrelevant sights or sounds in the external environment, or by our own thoughts? Why do we sometimes fail to notice important things?

The PhD project could examine the extent to which common determinants are involved in distraction by external stimuli and our own thoughts. For example, what makes a particular irrelevant thought capture our attention, when others do not? Another possible direction would be to test whether models of attention can be applied to predict involuntarily movements (are certain movements more salient and hence more likely to be involuntarily activated?).

This project would provide training in cognitive experimental design, as well as an opportunity to use EEG techniques.

Selected publications

(For a full list of publications, see: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/316091)

Forster, S., & Lavie, N. (2016). Establishing the attention-distractibility trait. Psychological Science, 27(2), 203-12.

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.

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