Amishi P. Jha, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Miami

ajha AT

How does the brain pay attention?

Attention and working memory are two important cognitive systems that interact with each other to allow for fluid behavior. Attention allows for selection between relevant and irrelevant information, while working memory allows relevant information to be maintained and manipulated over time. In our lab, we use behavioral methods, event-related potentials (ERPs), and functional MRI to investigate attention and working memory. We are particularly interested in understanding how these systems work together to select and de-select information. In addition, we examine the effect of attention selection on affective processing.

Active Projects in the Jha Lab

    The Influence of Affective Distraction on Attentional Selection Processes
    In one line of studies, we are examining the effect of affective distraction on the ability to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant stimuli. Our central hypothesis is that negative affective content may compromise selection mechanisms by reducing the integrity of enhancement of relevant information and suppression of irrelevant information. Through recording ERPs, it will be possible to index perceptual responses in early processing regions to test this hypothesis.

    Dynamic Adjustments in Working Memory
    In another line of experiments we are investigating the hypothesis that demands on cognitive control processes may result in dynamic upregulation of control during working memory tasks. We are investigating this hypothesis via behavioral studies manipulating cognitive demands during working memory delayed response tasks and affective distraction.


Recent findings from the Jha Lab on this topic:

Sreenivasan, K.K., Sambhara, D., & Jha, A.P. (2011). Working Memory Templates are Maintained as Feature-specific Perceptual Codes. Journal of Neurophysiology. 106:115-121.

Jha, A.P. & Kiyonaga, A. (2010). Working Memory-Triggered Adjustments in Dynamic Control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(4), 1036-1042.

Sreenivasan, K.K., Goldstein, J.M., Lustig, A.G., Rivas, L.R., & Jha, A.P. (2009). Attention to faces modulates early face processing during low but not high face discriminability. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 71, 837-846.

Dolcos, F., Miller, B., Kragel, P., Jha, A.P, & McCarthy, G. (2007). Regional brain differences in the effect of distraction during the delay interval of a working memory task. Brain Res, 1152, 171-181.

Sreenivasan, K.K., Katz J., & Jha, A.P. (2007). Temporal characteristics of top-down modulations during working memory maintenance: An ERP study of the N170 component. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 1836-1844.

Sreenivasan, K.K. & Jha, A.P. (2007). Selective attention supports working memory maintenance by modulating perceptual processing of distractors. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 32-41.

Jha, A.P., Ranucci, M.B., & Giuliani, N.R. (2006). Organization of mnemonic and response operations within prefrontal cortex. Brain Research, 1097, 133-141.