Attention and perception

Chair(s): Marie Mückstein (Berlin), Christine Stelzel (Berlin)

Presenter(s): David Wisniewski (Ghent University), Yana Fandakova (Berlin), Kelly Garner (Brisbane, Australia), Marie Mückstein (Berlin)

The capability of the human brain to process multiple tasks simultaneously is limited, as manifested in speed and accuracy decrements for concurrent task performance. Several factors might contribute to this processing limitation, one of which being the representational overlap of the tasks (Klingberg, 1998).

While some fMRI studies provide evidence for the role of overlapping brain activity in multitasking using activation-based univariate analysis approaches, more recently multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) has been applied to decode activity patterns related to task-set representations in the brain.

In this symposium, we aim to gain an advanced perspective on the role of neural task-set representations for performance decrements during concurrent or sequential task execution with a focus on MVPA. In the first talk, a general perspective will be outlined on how task representations change in the fronto-parietal cortex when the task context, in terms of cognitive demands, task switches, or rewards is being manipulated. The second contribution will focus on how individuals develop the ability to switch between tasks, emphasizing the difference in task representations between children and adults. The remaining two talks will shed light on the relationship between the overlap of task representations and observed dual-task costs in fronto-parietal as well as in sensory processing regions. In the following discussion, we will integrate the various perspectives to conclude with implications for the use of MVPA in multitasking research, and identify perspectives for future research.