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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

The role of attention in cognitive control: individual differences and plasticity

Fri, March 7, 2014 • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM • SEA Library, 4.244

Chris Beevers & David Schnyer

Department of Psychology 

Institute for Mental Health Research

The control of attention is a significant component of cognitive control. We can influence how we process and interact with the environment around us by what we attend to, including how effectively we can engage and disengage our focus of attention. Sustaining attention to, and difficulty disengaging away from negative information, plays a significant role across a broad range of mental disorders. Over the past several years we have been studying the brain system that supports the disengagement and shifting of attention in the presence of emotional information. This work has identified key features of this attentional control system and how genetic vulnerability and other factors, contribute to individual differences in its functional neural architecture. More recently, we have begun to explore how amenable this system is to alteration through training. Initially, we used  a computer based behavioral paradigm. More recently, using multi-voxel pattern classification approaches to real-time fMRI in a neurofeedback paradigm, we have begun to explore the extent of neural plasticity within this critical control system.


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