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Duncan Astle
Programme leader, Executive processes group
01223 355294

Link to Duncan's research pages

My research uses EEG and MEG with children and adults to explore the neural and cognitive mechanisms of top-down attentional control. In particular, I am interested in how these control mechanisms interact with our ability to store information in working memory, and whether or not they can explain the working memory capacity differences that we observe across different individuals. One possibility is that differences in attentional control mechanisms drive these apparent memory differences.

I am particularly interested in whether this is the case in childhood. Working memory capacity variability in childhood is a strong longitudinal predictor of educational outcome; my research explores the extent to which differences in attentional control abilities across children might drive these longitudinal relationships between initial working memory capacity and subsequent academic progress.

A further possibility is that the development of these control abilities can be modified by targeted intervention, thereby improving working memory performance and educational outcome. In short, my current research seeks to understand the relationship between development, training, and the neural mechanisms of top-down attentional control. My research is supported by the British Academy, the Royal Society and the MRC.

Publications on visual short-term memory (VSTM) and attention:

Murray, A.M., Nobre, A.C., Astle, D.E., and Stokes, M.G. (2012) Lacking control over the trade-off between between quality and quantity in visual short-term memory PLoS One, 7(8):e41223

Astle, D.E., Summerfield, J., Griffin, I., and Nobre, A.C. (2011) Orienting attention to locations in mental representations Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, DOI 10.3758/s13414-011-0218-3

Astle, D.E., Nobre, A.C. and Scerif, G (2010) Subliminally presented and stored objects capture spatial attention Journal of Neuroscience, 30(10), 3567-3571

Astle, D.E., and Scerif, G (2010) Interactions between attention and visual short-term memory (VSTM): What can be learnt from individual and developmental differences? Neuropsychologia

Astle, D.E., Nobre, A.C. and Scerif, G (2010) Attentional control constrains visual short-term memory: Insights from developmental and individual differences Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Astle, D.E. and Scerif, G. (2009) Using developmental cognitive neuroscience to study behavioural and attentional control Developmental Psychobiology, 57, 107-118

Astle, D.E. (2009) Going from a retinotopic to a spatiotopic co-ordinate system for spatial attention Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 13, 3971-3973

Astle, D.E., Nobre, A.C. & Scerif, G (2009) Applying an attentional set to perceived and remembered features PLoS One, 4(10)

Astle, D.E., Scerif, G., Kuo, B.-C., & Nobre, A.C. (2009) Spatial selection of features within perceived and remembered objects Frontiers in Human Neurosci, 3, 6

Publications on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of control in task-switching:

Astle, D.E., Geogiadi M., Jackson, S.R. and Jackson, G.M. (2011) Neural correlates of changing intention and the human FEF and IPS Journal of Neurophysiology

Astle, D.E., Jackson, G.M. and Swainson, R. (2009) Two measures of task-specific inhibition Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, [epub ahead of print]

Astle, D.E., Jackson, G.M. and Swainson, R. (2008) Fractionating the cognitive control required to bring about a change in task-set: A dense-sensor ERP study Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 2, 255-267

Astle, D.E., Jackson, G.M. and Swainson, R. (2008) The role of spatial information on advance task-set control: A dense-sensor ERP study European Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 1404-1418

Astle, D.E., Jackson, G.M. and Swainson, R. (2006) Dissociating neural indices of dynamic cognitive control in advance task-set preparation: An ERP study of task-switching Brain Research, 1125(1), 94-103

CBSU publications