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Sally Thomas


Attention Group (Stokes Lab)

research summary

My research focuses on visual attention, mostly using visual search tasks.

The visual world contains too much information for us to process so we use visual attention to filter out what is important for us. Understanding how and when we can control our visual attention is key to knowing how well we perform activities ranging from driving to an airport security personnel searching for a threating item to a doctor searching a scan for something unusual.

More specifically I am investigating a search mechanism called ‘preview benefit’, its interaction with other tasks and how it is formed by using visual search tasks and studying people’s accuracy and reaction times. My research is adding to our knowledge of how we can prioritise our attention to new items that appear in our visual field. Currently I am investigating the effect of various secondary tasks with preview search. I plan to look into the effect of emotion and configuration in forming the preview benefit.