£6,000 PhD Scholarship | APPLY NOW £6,000 PhD Scholarship | APPLY NOW

Cognitive neuroscience of atypical attention in autism and psychosis

   School of Psychology

This project is no longer listed on FindAPhD.com and may not be available.

Click here to search FindAPhD.com for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr C Mevorach  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The perceptual saliency of distracting non-target information presents a major challenge for attention selection processes, which are required to bias selection away from distracting, non-target items. Consequently, when atypicality in these processes is present it can have an overarching effect on human behaviour. Independent lines of evidence in autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorder (ASD and SSD, respectively) and the broader spectrum of their traits in neurotypical participants suggest that both of these conditions are associated with attentional atypicalities (sometimes from as early as the first year of life). Our previous research (e.g., Abu-akel et al., 2018) provided support for the notion the effects of autism and psychosis on the attention system are diametrical, which each condition driving the system to the opposite direction of the static/dynamic attention control continuum.

These attention tendencies not only fit with the pattern of behaviour we documented previously in the attention tasks but may also be associated with symptoms in the syndromes. This possible modulation of the attention system may be linked to previously observed neuronal signatures of ASD and Schizophrenia, respectively. For instance, studies have identified the DMN (and the Prrecuneus specifically) as a network which is hyper-activated in schizophrenia (does not show task-deactivation) but hypo-activated and under-connected in ASD (show reduced within network connectivity during resting state). Similarly, the TPJ (which is strongly associated with attention shifting and reactive control) has also been argued to show more volatile activation in schizophrenia, compared to ASD.

The proposed research will apply converging operations including, individual differences, brain stimulation and fMRI recordings as well as their combination in the same study (e.g., Mevorach et al., 2010) to provide a functional brain mechanistic framework for understanding attention atypicalitites in ASD and SSD. This work may also pave the way for future intervention targets in the syndromes both from a behaviour and neuroscience perspectives.


Spaniol, M.M, Shalev, L., & Mevorach, C. (2018). Reduced distractor interference in neurotypical adults with high expression of autistic traits irrespective of stimulus type. Autism Research, 11: 1345–1355.
Abu-Akel, A., Apperly, I., Sapniol, M.M., Geng, J.J., & Mevorach, C. (2018). Diametric effects of autism tendencies and psychosis proneness on attention control irrespective of task demands. Scientific Reports, 8, Article Number 8478.
Abu-Akel, A., Apperly, I., Wood, S.J., Hansen, P., & Mevorach, C. (2016). Autism tendencies and psychosis proneness interactively modulate saliency cost. Schizophrenia Bulletin, DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbw066.
Kolodny, T., Mevorach, C., Stern, P., Biderman, N., Ankaoua, M., Tsfrir, S & Shalev, L. (2020). Fronto-parietal engagement in response inhibition is inversely scaled with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom severity. NeuroImage: Clinical, volume 25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.102119

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities
Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs