Current and Past Research Projects

We are interested in how attention and learning processes can be measured during online experiments. In these remote studies, participants will complete online questionnaires describing their experiences and learning environments. After completion of questionnaires, we may schedule a Zoom session to monitor participants during an online task (Zoom and internet connection required).

Current Infant & Child Studies: 

1. Attention to Emotional Faces (7-10-year-olds)

- 2-part study, 1.5 hours total

In part 1 of this study, caregivers will complete a series of questionnaires about themselves, their child, and their child's cognitive and emotional experiences throughout the pandemic. Dependent on these responses, caregivers may be contacted to schedule a 1 hour Zoom session with a researcher in which children will complete questionnaires and play an online computer game with emotional faces on the screen.

Current Adult Studies:

1. How Do We Learn Remotely? (18-35-year-olds)

- One virtual visit, 1.5 hours 

Participants will watch brief video lessons, answer questions, and complete an attention task in a 1 hour Zoom session with a researcher. Then participants will complete a series of questionnaires about themselves and their recent experiences with remote learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

       If you are interested if participating, please fill out this interest form.

 

 

 

What we pay attention to affects how we learn. Beginning in the first year of life we engage visual selective attention as we navigate the world to focus on information that is relevant for learning and ignore or suppress distracting information. In this set of studies we investigate how increasing control over visual selective attention over the course of development supports more effective memory encoding. 

Current Infant & Child Studies: 

1. Attention to Faces Among Distractors (5-month-olds & 11-month-olds)

      ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19

- One visit, 1 hour

In this study your infant will view arrays of photos including objects, natural scenes, and faces.  We will use a non-invasive eye tracker to record where your infant looks as he/she looks at these images. 

2. Attention to Reward (9-12 month-olds)

ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19

- One visit, 1 hour

In this study we will take a photo of the primary caregiver to include in the experiment. Infant will view arrays of images with faces (caregivers and strangers) and distractors. We will use a non-invasive eye tracker to record where your infant looks as he/she looks at the images. We also get a baseline measurement of eye-blink-rate while your baby watches a 4-5 minute cartoon video. 

3. Learning from Media with Distractions  (3-5 year olds)

        ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19

        - One visit, 1-1.5 hours 

In this study your child will view four short science lessons on a computer screen while distracting images (related to science) are also present on the screen. They will answer multiple choice questions about the lessons via the computer screen before and after the lessons to assess their learning of lesson material. We will use a non-invasive eye tracker to record where your child looks as he/she views the lessons and answers questions. 

 

Relevant publications:

Keenan, B. & Markant, J. (2020). Differential sensitivity to species- and race-based information in the development of attention orienting and attention holding face biases in infancy. Developmental Psychobiology, 2020;0:1-9. doi: 10.1002/dev.22027

King, J. & Markant, J. (2020). Individual differences in selective attention and scanning dynamics influence children's learning from relevant non-targets in a visual search task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 193(104797). doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104797

Coleman, M., Offen, K., & Markant, J. (2018). Exercise similarly facilitates men and women's selective attention task response times but differentially affects memory task performance. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(1405), 1-19. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01405

Cruse, A., Offen, K., Markant, J. (2018). Spatial selective attention biases are shaped by long-term musical experience and short-term exposure to tones. Brain and Cognition, 125, 106-117.

Markant, J. & Amso, D. (2014). Leveling the playing field: Attention mitigates the effects of individual variability in intelligence. Cognition, 131(2), 195-204. 

Markant, J. & Amso, D. (2013). Selective memories: Infants' encoding is enhanced in selection via suppression. Developmental Science, 16(6), 926-940.

Also see: Amso, D. (2016). Visual attention: Its role in memory and development. 

 


This work builds off the behavioral studies described above to examine the neural networks linking visual selective attention and recognition memory during development. Previous studies have shown that engaging visual selective attention results in modulation of visual cortex activity. In our work we have used fMRI to examine the relationship between this modulation of visual cortex activity and recognition memory encoding and retrieval.

Current studies:
None at this time

Relevant publications:
Markant, J., Worden, M.S., & Amso, D. (2015). Not all attention orienting is created equal: Recognition memory is enhanced when attention orienting involves distractor suppression. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 120, 28-40.


Beginning as early as infancy individuals vary widely with respect to their ability to engage visual selective attention and effectively encode information. This work has used genetic methods to relate these individual differences in visual selective attention and memory to normative genetic polymorphisms that affect dopamine signaling.

Current studies:
None at this time

Relevant publications:
Markant, J., Ciccetti, D., Hetzel, S. & Thomas, K.M. (2014). Contributions of COMT Val158Met to cognitive stability and flexibility in infancy. Developmental Science, 17(3), 396-411.