How Does Uncertainty Guide Attention In Human Learning? - Dr Tom Beesley

What is this research about?

What are the characteristics of attention and how do they come to guide learning? To date, attention has been described separately as either being of an exploitative or an exploratory nature: we exploit known patterns in the environment, or we explore new possibilities.

We provide a new method of examining how these processes interact under conditions of varying uncertainty, which will reveal how these different processes comes to control human behaviour. This unique approach will provide important empirical data, driving forward the development of a new hybrid attentional theory of learning. As well as having vital theoretical benefits, this research will have implications for clinical disorders with known deficits in attentional function.

Other researchers involved:

A/Prof. Mike Le Pelley
Dr David Luque
Lara Easdale (PhD candidate)
Adrian Walker (PhD candidate)

Grants awarded:

DP140103268. Australian Research Council Discovery Project. $311,670. How does uncertainty influence selective attention during human associative learning? Beesley, T., Le Pelley, M. E., & Mitchell, C.J.

Publications relating to this research:

Luque, D., Vadillo, M. A., Le Pelley, M. E., & Beesley, T. (in press). Prediction and uncertainty: Examining controlled and automatic components of learned attentional biases. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Le Pelley, M. E., Mitchell, C. J., Beesley, T., George, D. N., Wills, A., J. (2016). Attention and associative learning in humans: an integrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 142, 1111-1140.

Beesley, T., Nguyen, K. P., Pearson, D., & Le Pelley, M. E. (2015). Uncertainty and predictiveness determine attention to cues during human associative learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68, 2175-2199.


To find out more information about this research, please contact Dr Tom Beesley.