Our Laboratory

In daily life, we are often overloaded by multiple competing stimuli and tasks. To function efficiently, we use mechanisms of attention to selectively process the most relevant sensory information and juggle our cognitive processing resources amongst the most important tasks. Our research focuses on understanding these attentional mechanisms using behavior, eye tracking, and event-related potentials (ERPs).

We are part of the Cognitive and Brain Sciences program at State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. We are very fortunate to have excellent facilities with state-of-the-art equipment for our research. Our brand new laboratory has been custom built for us to conduct our research. We are very excited to grow! We are currently funded by an CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.

Specific Interests

We are interested in a variety of topics related to visual perception and cognitive control. Specific areas of research include:

      • Distraction

      • Attention

      • Visual Search

      • Eye Movements

      • Event-Related Potentials (ERPs)

A Little History

The lab is led by Dr. Nicholas Gaspelin. As a graduate student, Nick studied in the Cognition, Brain, and Behavior program at the University of New Mexico under Dr. Eric Ruthruff. Most of Nick's early research focused on the control of visual attention and whether certain types of salient stimuli can automatically distract us. As a postdoctoral fellow, he studied at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis under Dr. Steven Luck. There, his research explored a specific hybrid model of attention capture which posits that people learn to suppress attention capture by salient stimuli. Nick's postdoctoral research was funded by the National Eye Institute and the UC Davis Center for Vision Science.

Salient stimuli, such as the red cardinal pictured above, seem to "pop out" of visual scenes. But can salient stimuli actually capture our visual attention?

We use specialized cameras to record eye movements. This movie shows eye movements from one of our visual search tasks.

We also measure brainwaves. The above image depicts an ERP component that indexes visual attention.