Research interests

My research interests are the following:

1) How we learn to ignore irrelevant stimuli

2) The interaction between attention and motivation

Research work

Habituation: Learning to ignore the irrelevant information
The capacity to overcome distraction is a key feature of a cognitive system that must ensure an efficient interaction with the surrounding environment, but the underlying psychological and neural mechanisms remain elusive. The aim of this line of research is to study the cognitive mechanisms underlying distractor filtering, and to show that our brain can capitalize on habituation, an ancestral form of learning that we share with other sub-human animals, to learn to ignore the distracting stimulation.

Motivational and attentional salience
The aim of this project is to understand the conditioning mechanisms by means of which initially neutral stimuli can acquire attentional and motivation salience when systematically paired with appetitive or aversive stimuli. Our recent studies show that once a reward-predicting stimulus has gained attentional salience, this attentional priority outlasts reward devaluation, thus making the conditioned stimulus autonomous in guiding the explorative behavior of the organism. Understanding these cognitive processes may have important implication for our understanding of the psychological mechanisms involved in different forms of addiction.