Adult Visual Cognition Laboratory



Dr. Charles L. Folk, Ph.D., Lab Director
Department of Psychology
office:  252 Tolentine Hall
lab:  M52 Tolentine Hall

          The Adult Visual Cognition Lab is primarily interested in understanding modeling visual selective attention in humans.   We conduct behavioral studies in which patterns of response times and error rates are used to infer the mechanisms responsible for determining how attention gets allocated to stimuli in the environment.  Of particular interest is in the nature of  “distractibility,” or the ability of certain kinds of stimuli to involuntarily “capture” attention, and the degree to which such capture is dependent on task set.  We typically use variants of visual search and spatial cuing tasks to explore these issues.  The lab has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and NASA.

            In the context of understanding selective attention, the lab is also interested in how selective attentional processes vary with age.  We run studies in which both young adults (college age) and older adults (60 – 80 yrs old) perform various types of attentional tasks.  Variations in performance as a function of age allow us to draw inferences about how age affects specific cognitive processes.  For example, we have shown that the ability to use top-down information to guide visual search is  compromised with age.  In addition, we have demonstated that attentional capture in older adults follows similar patterns as that display by young adults.

           Finally, the lab in also interested in research that applies theoretical models of selective attention to applied issues.  For example, we have published several papers on the allocation of attention in three-dimensional visual displays.  More recently, we have looked at the influence of irrelevant acoustic noise (such as that found in typical factory settings or airports) on the processing of information from visual displays.




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