The ability to act in a goal-directed fashion in spite of many competing forces is one of the hallmarks of adaptive human functioning. My research has examined how basic cognitive mechanisms such as selective attention and working memory optimize this adaptive behavior by allowing us to focus on, maintain, and retrieve goal-relevant information. One longstanding research interest concerns the extent to which the control of visual selective attention is voluntary (or goal-directed), and the extent to which salient objects and events in the world (e.g., unique colors, abrupt onset of stimuli or events, moving objects) can distract or “capture” our attention in an involuntary fashion, regardless of our current goals and intentions. Humans also use a wide variety of spatial symbols, ranging from abstract spatial words such as “above,” to iconic symbols such as arrows, to biologically-based symbols such as eye gaze, to control where others shift their attention. A major goal of my research is to provide a semantic-based theory of the symbolic control of spatial attention. A key feature of this theory is to explain how the processes underlying the comprehension of spatial symbols influence the distribution of attention in space. I have also developed a significant translational aspect to my study of goal-directed behavior that has involved working memory. Because working memory capacity may causally constrain the capacity to reason and learn, there has been great interest in knowing the extent to which working memory capacity is malleable, and, therefore, capable of being increased by adaptive training regimens as a strategy to improve reasoning and learning. I have recently created a novel training regimen that is capable of targeting the critical components of working memory capacity, and current research is investigating the extent to which this training can produce detectable improvements in reasoning and learning. Finally, I have also studied special populations of individuals who have both enhanced (synesthetes) and deficient (ADHD) working memory abilities to help understand how these abilities impact adaptive functioning.
Gibson, B.S., & Sztybel, P. (in press). What laboratory studies of symbolic spatial cues reveal about the control of attention in everyday life. In J. Fawcett, E.F. Risko, & A. Kingstone (Eds.), The Handbook of Attention. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
Radvansky, G.A., Gibson, B.S., McNerney, M.W. (2014). Working memory, situation models, and synesthesia. American Journal of Psychology, 127, 325-342.
Gibson, B.S., Gondoli, D.M., Johnson, A.C., & Robison, M.K. (2014). Recall initiation strategies must be controlled in training studies that use immediate free recall tasks to measure the components of working memory capacity across time. Child Neuropsychology, 20, 536-556.
Gibson, B.S., & Sztybel, P. (2014). The spatial semantics of symbolic attention control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 271-276.
Gibson, B.S., & Sztybel, P. (2014). Guiding attention to specific locations by combining symbolic information about direction and distance: Are human observers direction experts? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40, 731-751.
Biggs, A.T., & Gibson, B.S. (2014). Visual salience can co-exist with dilution during visual selection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance,40, 7-14.
Gibson, B.S., & Gondoli, D.M. (2013). A dual-component analysis of working memory training. In H. St Clair-Thompson (Ed.), Working memory: Developmental differences, component processes and improvement mechanisms (pp. 201-217). Nova Science Publishers, Inc.: Hauppauge, NY.
Biggs, A.T., & Gibson, B.S. (2013). Learning to ignore salient color distractors during serial search: Evidence for experience-dependent attention allocation strategies. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, pp. 1-13. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00326.
Gibson, B.S., Gondoli, D.M., Kronenberger, W.G., Johnson, A.C., Steeger, C.M. & Morrissey. R.A. (2013). Exploration of an adaptive training regimen that can target the secondary memory component of working memory capacity. Memory & Cognition, 41, 726-737.
Gibson, B.S., Radvansky, G.A., Johnson, A.C., & McNerney, M.W. (2012). Grapheme-color synesthesia can enhance immediate memory without disrupting the encoding of relational cues. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19, 1172-1177.
Gibson, B.S., Kronenberger, W.G., Gondoli, D.M., Johnson, A.C., Morrissey, R.M., & Steeger, C.M. (2012). Component analysis of simple span vs. complex span adaptive working memory exercises: A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 179-184.
Gibson, B.S., Gondoli, D.M., Johnson, A.C., Steeger, C.M., & Morrissey, R.M. (2012). The future promise of Cogmed working memory training. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 214-216.
Davis, G.J., & Gibson, B.S., (2012). Going rogue in the spatial cuing paradigm: High spatial validity is insufficient to elicit voluntary shifts of attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 1192-1201.
Biggs, A.T., Kreager, R.D., Gibson, B.S., Crowell, C., & Villano, M. (2012). Semantic and affective salience: The role of meaning and preference in attentional capture and disengagement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 531-541.
Gibson, B.S., Thompson, A.N., Davis, G.J., & Biggs, A.T.(2011). Going the distance: Extra-symbolic contributions to the symbolic control of spatial attention. Visual Cognition, 19, 1237-1261.
Gibson, B.S., Gondoli, D.M., Johnson, A.C., Steeger, C.M., Dobrzenski, B.A., & Morrissey, R.A. (2011). Component Analysis of Verbal versus Spatial Working Memory Training in Adolescents with ADHD: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Child Neuropsychology, 17, 546-563.
Radvansky, G.A., Gibson, B.S., & McNerney, M. (2011). Synesthesia and memory: Color congruency, von Restorff and false memory effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 219-229.
Gibson, B.S., & Davis, G.J. (2011). Grounding spatial language in the motor system: Reciprocal interactions between spatial semantics and orienting. Visual Cognition, 19, 79-116.
Gibson, B.S., Gondoli, D.M., Flies, A.C., Dobrzenski, B.A., & Unsworth, N. (2010). Application of the dual-component model of working memory to ADHD. Child Neuropsychology, 16, 60-79.
Biggs, A.T., & Gibson, B.S. (2010). Competition between color salience and perceptual load during visual selection can be biased by top-down set. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 72, 53-64.