We live in a multisensory world, which requires us to continually, dynamically, and effectively process stimuli from across the sensory modalities. To do so successfully, we need to integrate corresponding unisensory stimulus components together to perceive coherent multisensory objects, while also appropriately segregating out concurrent non-corresponding stimuli. In the next period of this grant, we propose a new set of studies to continue our programmatic investigation of the mechanisms by which attention and related cognitive factors facilitate effective functioning in complex multisensory environments. In particular, we will investigate three fundamental facets of these mechanisms. First, we will study the influence of the top-down cognitive factors of spatial attention and reward prospect on multisensory (auditory/visual) integration and segregation processes. Second, we will examine the commonality across the auditory and visual modalities of the mechanisms underlying rapid attentional target-search processes in complex stimulus environments, including the cross- modality coupling of such attentional processes. Third, we will investigate the multisensory integration and segregation processes when input from one particular modality is relevant, but there is conflicting concurrent input from a second modality;we will also compare these crossmodal processes to those invoked in response to conflicting input from within the same modality. As before, we will use a combination of behavioral measures, oscillatory electroencephalography (EEG), event-related potentials (ERPs), and functional MRI (fMRI) to perform these studies, with the aim to delineate the timing, sequence, and location of underlying neural processes. Additionally, we will acquire EEG and fMRI measures of brain activity simultaneously for several of the proposed experiments using our new MR- compatible EEG system purchased via a supplement from this project. Such an approach will enable us to perform trial-to-trial covariational analyses on the EEG and fMRI data patterns, providing powerful new ways to link the high-temporal-resolution EEG signals to the associated cortical generators measured in the fMRI. Moreover, the simultaneous recording will also allow us to examine the modulating influence on the cortical EEG of the subcortical brain regions involved in attention, reward, and multisensory integration but whose influence cannot be assessed with EEG alone. Thus, these experiments will delineate with unprecedented precision the neural mechanisms by which attention and related cognitive functions enable successful navigation of our complex multisensory world.

Public Health Relevance

A number of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, Alzheimer's disease, and autism, have adverse effects on attentional and multisensory-integration capabilities. Moreover, traumatic brain injury (e.g., following concussions) and or stroke can also result in dramatic impairments in sensory processing and attention (e.g., poor attentional focus, hemispatial neglect). Given that individuals with disordered brain function need to interact and cope in a multisensory world, the proposed studies of multi- sensory attentional mechanisms will provide important and fundamental knowledge for better understanding these deficits and developing effective treatments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
Program Officer
Gnadt, James W
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Duke University
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Giattino, Charles M; Alam, Zaynah M; Woldorff, Marty G (2017) Neural processes underlying the orienting of attention without awareness. Cortex :
McKay, Cameron C; van den Berg, Berry; Woldorff, Marty G (2017) Neural cascade of conflict processing: Not just time-on-task. Neuropsychologia 96:184-191
Marini, Francesco; Demeter, Elise; Roberts, Kenneth C et al. (2016) Orchestrating Proactive and Reactive Mechanisms for Filtering Distracting Information: Brain-Behavior Relationships Revealed by a Mixed-Design fMRI Study. J Neurosci 36:988-1000
van den Berg, Berry; Appelbaum, Lawrence G; Clark, Kait et al. (2016) Visual search performance is predicted by both prestimulus and poststimulus electrical brain activity. Sci Rep 6:37718
Demeter, Elise; De Alburquerque, Daniela; Woldorff, Marty G (2016) The effects of ongoing distraction on the neural processes underlying signal detection. Neuropsychologia 89:335-343
Demeter, Elise; Woldorff, Marty G (2016) Transient Distraction and Attentional Control during a Sustained Selective Attention Task. J Cogn Neurosci 28:935-47
San Martín, René; Appelbaum, Lawrence G; Huettel, Scott A et al. (2016) Cortical Brain Activity Reflecting Attentional Biasing Toward Reward-Predicting Cues Covaries with Economic Decision-Making Performance. Cereb Cortex 26:1-11
Donohue, Sarah E; Appelbaum, Lawrence G; McKay, Cameron C et al. (2016) The neural dynamics of stimulus and response conflict processing as a function of response complexity and task demands. Neuropsychologia 84:14-28
Langford, Zachary D; Krebs, Ruth M; Talsma, Durk et al. (2016) Strategic down-regulation of attentional resources as a mechanism of proactive response inhibition. Eur J Neurosci 44:2095-103
San Martín, René; Kwak, Youngbin; Pearson, John M et al. (2016) Altruistic traits are predicted by neural responses to monetary outcomes for self vs charity. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 11:863-76

Showing the most recent 10 out of 47 publications