Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Opening Conference of the ZiF Research Group Competition and Priority Control in Mind and Brain: New Perspectives from Task-Driven Vision

Date: October 9 - 11, 2012

Convenors: Werner Schneider (Bielefeld), Wolfgang Einhäuser-Treyer (Marburg), Gernot Horstmann (Bielefeld)

Visual attention can be defined as a set of processes that selectively assign priorities to events, objects, features, or scenes over competing alternatives. Only recently has this attentional perspective been extended to functional domains beyond visual perception, such as action and memory. For example, in visually guided action, the process of selecting one action target among others has become a topical issue. For the domain of memory, selective encoding, selective maintenance, and selective retrieval of working memory and long-term memory have become subject of study, as has the relationship of these selection processes to visual attention in perception. These new lines of research immediately pose the question as to how these various processes of attention in (visual) perception, memory and action interact and how they are integrated. Such integration is inevitable, given that in realistic scenarios, perception, memory and action together form the basis of cognition and behavior.
The integrative approaches to understand the domain-overreaching principles and neuronal processes that underlie attentional selection are at the heart of the current (2012/2013) ZiF research group on 'Competition and Priority Control in Mind and Brain: New Perspectives from Task-Driven Vision', and accordingly formed the scope of the research group's opening conference 'Linking Selection for Visual Perception, Memory, and Action', taking place from 9th to 11th of October.
To tackle the issue of an integrated view on attention, 60 distinguished scientists from a broad range of disciplines (e.g., biology, computer science, psychology, physics) and countries (e.g., Germany, Great Britain, USA, Israel, The Netherlands, Denmark) participated in the opening conference at the ZiF. All are leading experts in at least one domain of attention research, and most of them are members of the ZiF research group, which presently encompasses 29 fellows and ten associate members.
The informal beginning of the opening conference was the directors' reception of the ZiF research group on Monday evening, which was for most fellows the first-and entirely pleasing-contact with the ZiF. The Tuesday started with the first section (Humphreys, Schneider, Hollingworth, Tatler, Finke; disussant: Olivers) on 'Visual Selection and Memory', in which research and theory was presented on the interplay of attention, visual short term memory, long term memory, and action, both referring to studies with healthy participants and with patients. The second session (Zelinsky, Gegenfurtner, Rolfs, Theeuwes, Vangkilde & Bundesen; discussant: Yeshurun), which spanned into Wednesday, was about 'Visual Selection and Perception' and focused on recent developments in research on how covert and overt attentional processes in perception might work, in particular, when sequences of eye-movements are made. The third session turned to 'Visual Selection and Action' (Einhäuser, Hayhoe, Flanagan, Logan; discussant: König), focusing on 'attention in the real world' on the one hand, and on the role of eye movements and attention in simple (object manipulations) and complex sensorimotor tasks (typewriting). The final session that also closed the conference on Thursday illuminated the 'Neural Architecture of Visual Attention' (Everling, Bisley, Krauzlis, Schall; discussant: Kyllingsbæk), covering overviews as well as the latest results and theories on attentional effects at the level of single cells.

In sum, the conference gave an overview on the state-of-the-art of basic research on attentional processes in visual perception, memory and action bringing together a balanced mixture of experimentalists and theoreticians, of psychologists and neuroscientists. The talks and the discussions made clear that the key goal of the research group, namely the quest for cross-domain principles of attentional selection, is a highly timely topic.


Ulrich Ansorge (Wien, AUT), Dana Ballard (Austin, USA), Anna Bellardinelli (Tübingen, GER), James Bisley (Los Angeles, USA), Norbert Boeddeker (Bielefeld, GER), Mario Bogdanov (Bielefeld, GER), Claus Bundesen (Kopenhagen, DEN), Marc Ernst (Bielefeld, GER), Stefan Everling (London, CAN), John Findlay (Durham, GBR), Kathrin Finke (München, GER), Randy Flanagan (Kingston, CAN), Rebecca Förster (Bielefeld, GER), Karl Gegenfurtner (Gießen, GER), Barry Giesbrecht (Santa Barbara, USA), Gordian Griffiths (Bielefeld, GER), Mary Hayhoe (Austin, USA), Arvid Herwig (Bielefeld, GER), Andrew Hollingworth (Iowa City, USA), Oliver Herbort (Tübingen, GER), Kenneth Holmqvist (Lund, SWE), Gernot Horstmann (Bielefeld, GER), Lynn Huestegge (Aachen, GER), Glyn Humphreys (Oxford, GBR), Pia Knoeferle (Bielefeld, GER), Peter König (Osnabrück, GER), Edgar Körner (Offenbach, GER), Ursula Körner (Offenbach, GER), Richard J. Krauzlis (Bethesda, USA), Soeren Kyllingsbaek (Kopenhagen, DEN), Gordon Logan (Nashville, USA), Svenja Marx (Marburg, GER), Fiona Mulvey (Lund, SWE), Maria Nordfang (Kopenhagen, DEN), Antje Nuthmann (Edinburgh, GBR), J. Kevin O'Regan (Paris, FRA), Chris Olivers (Amsterdam, NED), Florian Ostendorf (Berlin, GER), Anders Erik Petersen (Kopenhagen, DEN), Christian Poth (Bielefeld, GER), Wolfgang Prinz (Leipzig, GER), Jane Riddoch (Oxford, GBR), Martin Rolfs (Berlin, GER), Jeffrey D. Schall (Nashville, USA), Thomas Schenk (Erlangen, GER), Wolfram Schenk (Bielefeld, GER), Alexander Schütz (Gießen, GER), Jochen Steil (Bielefeld, GER), Ben Tatler (Dundee, GBR), Jan Theeuwes (Amsterdam, NED), Jan Tünnermann (Paderborn, GER), Signe A. Vangkilde (Kopenhagen, DEN), Niklas Wilming (Osnabrück, GER), Svenja Wulff (Münster, GER), Yaffa Yeshurun (Haifa, ISR), Gregory Zelinsky (Stony Brook, USA)

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