Attentional control during conflict: Causal contributions and interactions of fronto-parietal cortices in the human brain

Ziel / Fragestellung: 
Attentional control is essential for navigating through a stimulus-rich world in which competing pieces of information demand attention. Attention mechanisms are mediated by widely distributed brain networks. However, the exact causal functional contributions and interactions within these networks are still poorly understood. In our project we will employ different approaches of brain perturbation using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in order to:

(i) identify regions of bilateral human parietal and frontal cortex that make causal contributions to the allocation of attention during conflict;
(ii) characterize each region’s specific functional contributions and temporal dynamics and
(iii) investigate the regions’ intra-hemispheric and inter-hemisheric network interactions in a standard conflict paradigm (flanker task) which requires selective attention and conflict resolution.

The goal of the project is to contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental neural mechanisms of attentional control and has implications for the characterization of the function and dysfunction of these mechanisms after brain damage. 

Experiment, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

2011 bis 2017


Olk B (2013) Measuring the allocation of attention in the Stroop task: evidence from eye movement patterns. Psychol Res. 77(2): 106-15.

Peschke C, Hilgetag CC, Olk B (2013) Influence of stimulus type on effects of flanker, flanker position, and trial sequence in a saccadic eye movement task. Q J Exp Psychol 66(11):2253-67.

Peschke C, Olk B, Hilgetag CC (2013) Should I stay or should I go--cognitive conflict in multi-attribute signals probed with East and West German 'Ampelmännchen' traffic signs. PLoS One. 8(5): e64712.

Olk B, Tsankova E, Petca AR, Wilhelm AF (2014) Measuring effects of voluntary attention: a comparison among predictive arrow, colour, and number cues. Q J Exp Psychol. 67(10):2025-41.

Olk B, Peschke C, Hilgetag CC (2015) Attention and control of manual responses in cognitive conflict: Findings from TMS perturbation studies.  Neuropsychologia 74:7-20.

Kandil FI, Olk B, Hilgetag CC (2017) Female vs. Male Ampelmännchen-Gender-Specific Reaction Times to Male and Female Traffic Light Figures. Front Psychol 8:690.

Olk, B, Dinu, A, Zielinski, DJ, Kopper, R (2018) Measuring visual search and distraction in immersive virtual reality. Royal Society Open Science 5, Issue 5.

Kandil, FI, Olk, B & Hilgetag, CH (2016). Causal mapping of parietal and frontal cortical regions of the human brain contributing to perceptual conflict”. 10th Forum of European Neurosciences (FENS) in Copenhagen.

Kandil, FI, Olk, B & Hilgetag, CH (2016). Identification of parietal and frontal cortical regions of the human brain that contribute to perceptual conflict by causal TMS. 6th Internatl Conference on Transcranial Brain Stimulation (TBS) in Göttingen.

Kandil, FI, Olk, B & Hilgetag, CH (2018). Causal mapping and chronometry of parietal and frontal human brain regions contributing to perceptual conflict. 11th Forum of European Neurosciences (FENS) in Berlin.

Studentische Beteiligung: 
Die Datenerhebung erfolgte z.T. durch studentische Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter

gefördert/ in Auftrag gegeben durch: 
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)


Prof. Dr. Bettina Olk

Professorin für Angewandte Therapiewissenschaften

Zum Profil

Prof. Dr. Claus C. Hilgetag

UKE Hamburg Eppendorf


Dr. Claudia Peschke
Dr. Farid I. Kandil