Research

Laboratory for Attention and Social Cognition

1205 Dr Penfield Avenue, Stewart Biology Building, Room N6/7, Department of Psychology, McGill University
Montreal, QC H3A 1B1
Phone: 514 398 1079
Email: ascmcgill@gmail.com

Recent research suggests that attention to social information is unique and distinct as compared to attention to other objects. In this manner, social attention can help us interpret social information by enabling the comprehension of subtle visual signals, e.g., eye gaze direction. We are currently investigating whether social attention is a unique process by examining its basic properties as well as its relationship with other social cognitive processes like group membership and identity.

SOCIAL ATTENTION IN THE LAB

MECHANISMS OF ATTENTION

What are the mechanisms by which attention influences perception of simple and complex stimuli? We are interested in determining the behavioural and neural activity associated with pure measures of attentional selection and orienting. By using simple response-based tasks and EEG, we can examine the relative differences when attending to sensory events in order to better understand the basic mechanisms of human attention and their behavioural and neural correlates.

Studying social attention also allows us to examine how we attend to social information in a real-world environment rather than in a lab setting. We are currently using eye tracking to examine how we attend and respond to simple low-level stimuli or more complex everyday natural scenes and movie clips. By using this approach, we can estimate the units of social attention to understand the effect that environmental complexity has on social orienting.

SOCIAL ATTENTION IN THE REAL WORLD

How does our ability to attend to novel and informative social events develop over the lifespan? Through the use of various questionnaires and standardized tests, we are interested in understanding both the developmental progression of and individual variability in how we attend to social information.

DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL ATTENTION

How does holding social information in working memory affect attentional processes and how does this differ from working memory for non-social information? Our lab is investigating how working memory for gaze direction and facial identity affects measures of attention.

SOCIAL ATTENTION & MEMORY