Dynamic anticipatory biases guiding perception

The Brain & Cognition Lab has been investigating the cognitive and neural mechanisms of selective attention in the human brain since its inception. In a new programme of work funded by a Senior Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust to Kia Nobre, we will be investigating how expectations based on our long-term experience combine with our current task goals to prepare neural activity and guide adaptive perception in dynamic environments. The research builds on previous lines of research on the orienting of attention based on task goals, long-term memory experience, and temporal expectations.

Experimental Approach

The core of the research programme is discovery science. We are designing novel tasks to examine the interplay between goal- and memory-based attention within dynamic environments containing different degrees of temporal predictability. The tasks will be combined with cutting-edge brain-imaging, recording, and stimulation methods to define the functional neural networks involved, track dynamics of neural modulation, and investigate the causal involvement of brain areas. Through a series of collaborations, the programme of work will also drill down to the mechanisms at the neuronal-circuit level, explore the clinical ramifications of dynamic goal- and memory-based anticipatory biases for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric conditions, and develop new theoretical and computational models.


Knowledge of how goals and memory dynamically guide perceptual selectivity has numerous important ramifications. In mental health, this knowledge can help explain maladaptive cognitive biases in psychological and psychiatric conditions, and deficits in adaptive behaviour in neurological conditions. It may also provide a fruitful platform for developing and assessing treatments. The clinical applications of the work will be actively pursued through links with our ongoing Marie Curie Initial Training Network on Attention Disorders and Wellcome Trust Strategic Award on Bipolar Disorder. In an exciting new direction, we will also be considering some of the conceptual and practical aspects of dynamic biases in perception through Art, in collaboration with London-based artist Sigune Hamann.

Investigators & Collaborators

Principal Investigator: Kia Nobre

Postdoctoral Researchers: Ryszard Auksztulewicz, Nick Myers, Zita Patai, Ana Todorovic

Doctoral Student: Nora Rouast, Kate Nussenbaum

Research Assistants: Sammi Chekroud, Alex Irvine

Collaborators: John Duncan (Cambridge Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit), Karl Friston (University College London), John Geddes (Oxford Psychiatry), Sigune Hamann (London-based artist), Paul Harrison (Oxford Psychiatry), Glyn Humphreys (Oxford Experimental Psychology), Masud Husain (Oxford Experimental Psychology), Sabine Kastner (Princeton), Bob Knight (Berkeley), Matthew Rushworth (Oxford Experimental Psychology), Gaia Scerif (Oxford Experimental Psychology), Mark Stokes (Oxford Experimental Psychology)


Wellcome Trust

Related Web Links:

Wellcome Trust Investigator Award Recipients in July 2014

Sigune Hamann’s exhibition: I’ll walk alone-you’ll never walk alone

Sigune Hamann’s exhibition: Wave