Have you ever
- been blind to the environment around you as you were so much focused on a difficult or engaging task?
- written a text in 2 hours for which you normally need 5 days?
- not been able to receive the full attention of your best friend anymore the moment she/he became a parent?
Cognitive resources are limited but our brain is highly adaptive in flexibly allocating these limited resources to aspects perceived as currently relevant – e.g. to a newborn child or to distracting activities like mind-wandering. How can we influence this process of resource allocation and which neural and cognitive mechanisms accompany it?
During the next years, I will work on this research question in the context of my PhD studies at IfADo. The project starts now and is supervised by Stefan Arnau. In a first experiment, we investigate EEG correlates during a multitasking paradigm aiming to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms of resource allocation due to task relevance. We specifically look at EEG correlates associated with cognitive control and the time course of task processing.
The project aims at linking basic research on information processing with applied neuroergonomics. Linking cognitive neuroscience with industry application is something I’ve done for several years working in neuromarketing after having studied biology. Neuromarketing applies neuroscientific knowledge and methods to study usability, human-computer-interaction, price perception, ad efficiency, package design or shopper journeys. I conducted EEG projects for a start-up near Stuttgart, measuring value perception, buying motivation and attention.
How does this relate to my PhD topic besides the practical aspect? In the context of market research, I sometimes helped people working in marketing or sales to capture their clients’ attention and to understand how clients’ attentional resources are allocated to specific brands or products. In the context of product development, I investigated how to design safe and efficient products that can be intuitively used, i.e. that guide the user’s resource allocation in a specific way. Now, I will focus on ergonomic aspects of resource allocation. As our modern working life becomes more and more digital, we are more and more forced to share our resources between different tasks, media devices, and social interactions. How can we do this in an efficient, safe and enjoyable way? I hope to know a little bit more about that in several years!