How Does Attentional Control Matter? Typical and Atypical Mechanisms

ScerifTalk: How Does Attentional Control Matter? Typical and Atypical Mechanisms

Speaker: Prof. Gaia Scerif – University of Oxford

May, 19 2015, 12.00

School of Psychology – Via Venezia 8 – Padua

Abstract: Attentional control plays a crucial role in biasing incoming information in favour of what is relevant to further processing, action selection and long-term task goals. Thus attention is, with good reason, one of the most studied mechanisms in the neurosciences. Here I aim to review two complementary lines of work targeting the mechanisms underlying attention through a developmental cognitive neuroscience perspective. The adverse effects of attentional difficulties in disorders of identified genetic aetiology have allowed the mapping of pathways from identified genetic differences to neuronal biology, brain abnormalities, attentional differences and their cognitive outcomes. However, understanding the adverse effects of these neurodevelopmental disorders requires studying how attentional control matters over typical development. To this aim, we have also explored how attentional constraints interact with working and long-term memory using behavioural, eye-tracking, EEG and MEG methods. I will close with a summary of implications from these developmental findings for an understanding of adult attentive observers.


Gaia Scerif is Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. Originally from Milan, Gaia studied at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, spending a year visiting Queen’s University, in Canada. She then moved to London for a PhD at University College London, supervised by Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Kim Cornish and Jon Driver. After a visiting fellowship at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology, Cornell University, she took up a lectureship at the University of Nottingham. She has been based in Oxford since October 2006, where she leads the Attention, Brain and Cognitive Development group (

Local organizer: Prof. Teresa Farroni