Information Processing in Naturalistic Environments

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In the last twenty years there's been a gradual shift towards thinking about brain, sensory and cognitive processes as occurring in environments that are typically multisensory in nature. Yet, there has been a continued lack of cross-talk between traditional, unisensory (visual or auditory) research and the research on processes enabling the brain to integrate information across the senses (multisensory integration).

Dr. Matusz’s work focuses on how brain and cognitive processing of objects in naturalistic environments is influenced by 1) the multisensory nature of these objects (cf. emotional valence; e.g. Matusz et al. 2015 JCP), 2) variability in stimulus relevance/ task demands, and 3) differences in selective-attention skills and experience of the observers.

Dr. Matusz and his colleagues have proposed a new framework within which to understand the brain and cognitive mechanisms underpinning distinct multisensory processes and their interactions with attentional control and experience/memory (ten Oever et al. 2016 EBR). Rather than there being a single capacity for integrating multisensory information, there is a variety of multisensory processes, some based on temporal simultaneity (e.g. Matusz & Eimer, 2011 PBR), learnt associations (e.g. Sarmiento*, Matusz* et al. 2015 HBM), and others – on pure task-relevance (e.g. Matusz & Eimer, 2013 PP). In parallel, we have demonstrated that EEG can be particularly useful as a brain mapping in studying and measuring distinct multisensory processes, when combined with advanced signal processing techniques and well-understood and rigorous experimental paradigms (Murray et al. 2016 NSY; De Meo et al. 2015 FIN).

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