Measurement of Covert Attention

Girl dreaming

No need to measure if she is
paying attention...; ©

The person you’re speaking with may be looking at you, but are they really paying attention? Or has the person covertly shifted their attention, without moving their eyes? Dr. Brian Corneil has found a way that will uncover whoever does not pay attention.

“Our results demonstrate for the first time that covert attention can be measured in real-time via recordings of muscle activity in the neck,” says Corneil, an assistant professor of physiology & pharmacology and psychology. “This finding may fundamentally change how attention is measured, grounding it in an objective and straightforward technique.”

Until now, measuring attention was based on indirect measures of changes in reaction time, or stimulus detection. In furthering our understanding of how the brain works, Corneil has discovered that neck muscles are recruited during covert orienting, even in the absence of eye movements. This finding could help in assessing the effectiveness of therapies for stroke or other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.; Source: University of Western Ontario