Components of Attention in Grapheme-Color Synesthesia: A Modeling Approach

Thomas Alrik Sørensen:

The first of our studies on synaesthesia is now available online for free.

Originally posted on ITVA:

A recent study published online in PLoS ONE by Ásgeirsson et al. (2015) use TVA to analyse what attentional components are modulated by stimulus congruency in colour-grapheme synaesthesia. The authors report that processing speed is affected by stimulus congruency. Surprisingly, several TVA parameters such as the threshold for visual perception as well as attentional selectivity remain un affected by a manipulation of congruency. The authors argue that as well as yielding a more detailed understanding of how synaesthesia interact with cognitive components like attention.

The study is freely available online at

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Components of Attention Modulated by Temporal Expectation

Originally posted on ITVA:

In a new study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Sørensen et al. (2014) investigate the effects of temporal expectation and how it modulate attentional TVA parameters. They demonstrate that the temporal expectancy paradigm modulate visual short-term memory, possibly through a phasic modulation of observer arousal akin to a hypothesis proposed by Easterbrook (1959). Sørensen et al. also present a novel analysis using the standard deviation of the attentional weights as a measure of how evenly an observer distribute their attentional resources. Hereby, it is possible to measure the scope of attentional focus in addition to the traditional TVA parameters.

Article available for download via APA on PsycNET

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CCN moves to a new location on the Aalborg campus

During the summer Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) will move to Kroghstræde 6 along with the new facilities for behavioural studies at Aalborg University: Experimental Psychology Laboratory. Here there will be four rooms for controlled behavioural studies including one multi room for larger setups, and training of students in experimental and behavioural methods in psychology. 

The new lab will ensure that students on the neuropsychology program (along with BA students who have a special interest in behavioural neuroscience) can participate in ongoing research projects at CCN. Students will also be able to suggest individual projects within topics such as memory, attention, perception, and consciousness. Here we will be able to provide individual supervision and training for a number of projects each semester independent of the scheduled classes.


The Disappearing Hand

The first prize at the 8th Annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest at VSS in 2012 went to a demonstration by Roger Newport, Helen Gilpin and Catherine Preston called the disappearing hand trick.

This demonstration made me think of some beautiful experiments conducted in Copenhagen by Torsten Ingemann Nielsen in 1963 called the alien hand experiment. Here an observer also lets visual input override proprioceptive information, as an experimentor through the use of mirrors manipulate the visual feedback of the observer (see fig 1 in Gallagher & Sørensen 2006).


Nielsen, T. I. (1963). Volition: A new experimental approach. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 4, 225–230.

Gallagher, S. & Sørensen, J. B. (2006). Experimenting with phenomenology. Consciousness and Cognition, 15, 119–134.

Flashed face distortion effect

This interesting demonstration won the second prize at the 8th Annual Best Illusion
of the Year Contest at VSS this year. It was presented by Matthew Thompson, and who recently published a paper with his colleagues describing the effect in Perception (Tangen, Murphy & Thompson, 2011).

You can also read the story of the discovery of the flashed face distortion effect in the UQ Psyc blog.


Tangen, J. M., Murphy, S. C., & Thompson, M. B. (2011). Flashed face distortion effect: Grotesque faces from relative spaces. Perception, 40, 628-630. doi:10.1068/p6968

Student help wanted

Form the 1st of January I am starting to work on my ph.d. project on the nature of the capacity limitations of visual short-term memory. Basically, I will continue the work started in my master thesis and expand on the basic ideas briefly described in that project.

I would like to have student assistants (this is usually on volunteer basis) on the project, so if you are interested please contact me – my own interests where originally sparked by being a student helper on ph.d. projects by Morten Overgaard and Søren Kyllingsbæk.

The main areas I will be working on – at least from my current perspective – will be the following:

  • Visual Short-Term Memory
  • Visual Long-Term Memory
  • Memory Capacity
  • Visual Representations and Categories
  • Consciousness
  • Early processes in TVA

If you find any of these areas interesting and would like to assist in a research project, feel free to contact me – I am interested in students on all levels – whether you are working on your master thesis or you are a first year student.

During this month I will prepare for the project startup so that I can be ready for the real startup in January – this project will be running over the next three years and you can choose to join in on different parts of it if you like.

Course update

I am working on the two courses in consciousness for the fall semester today, so hopefully I will have some updates on these courses late afternoon or early evening today. I plan to update information on literature for the course, the type of exam the course will have, and probably also a bit information about the form of the course.