CBBM Lecture "Ambiguity and Attention during behaviour in the real world"

by Prof. Wolfgang Einhäuser-Treyer,

Chemnitz University of Technology,

Institute of Physics,

Physics of Cognition

will take place on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 from 17:15 to 18:15 hours in Lecture Hall H1, Turmgebäude.

Host: Prof. Sören Krach
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Social Neuroscience Lab


In real-life situations, we continuously need to process complex and ambiguous stimuli, select relevant information, make decisions, and execute appropriate actions. The first part of my talk will focus on multi‑stable stimuli as model for such processing. Specific emphasis will be given to the direct feedback of action on perceptual processes. In this context, pupillometry suggests a common neural substrate for resolving perceptual ambiguity and cognitive decision-making under uncertainty. Perceptual ambiguity will be interpreted as an example for a competitive process and thereby connected to selective attention, which can be viewed as combination of competition and priority control (“biased competition”). Consequently, the second part of my talk will address gaze orientation as proxy for the allocation of attention in natural scenes and real-life situations. The role of features for attentional guidance will be quantified: although features control attention to some extent, objects and task are the primary drivers of attention. During real-life behaviour, the environment imposes additional constraints, which are virtually impossible to mimic in the laboratory. These constraints manifest themselves in implicit tasks, like gait control on uneven terrain, that in turn have a profound influence on gaze. Extending on such results, I will demonstrate of applications of mobile gaze and pupil tracking, such as diagnosis of neurological and psychiatric disorders and communication with patients, whose motor functions are severely impaired.


Prof. Einhäuser-Treyer studied Physics at University of Heidelberg and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. He earned his PhD in 2004 from ETH Zurich and University of Zurich under the supervision of Rodney J. Douglas and Peter König. Afterwards he continued his postdoctoral research at ETH Zurich and California Institute of Technology in the USA. In 2008 he was appointed Assistant Professor for Neurophysics at University of Marburg. From 2012 to 2013 he was Convener of the resident research group “Competition and Priority Control in mind and brain: New perspectives from task-driven vision” at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) in Bielefeld. Since 2015 he has been Full Professor for Physics of Cognition at Chemnitz University of Technology.