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Dynam­ics of attention

Human envi­ron­ments are rich in sen­so­ry sig­nals from rel­e­vant sources (i.e., tar­gets) and irrel­e­vant sources (i.e., dis­trac­tors). To achieve goals, the human neur­al sys­tem must focus atten­tion on tar­gets and sup­press dis­trac­tion. Our over­ar­ch­ing research goal is to uncov­er the intri­cate inter­play of neu­ro-cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms involved in tar­get enhance­ment and dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion and their explana­to­ry poten­tial for human goal-ori­ent­ed behaviour.



  • PI: PD Dr. rer. nat. Malte Wöstmann

Con­tact infor­ma­tion: malte.woestmann@uni-luebeck.de (Email); +49 451 3101 3621 (Phone)


  • Han­nah Marie Meineke – Mas­ter stu­dent, stu­dent assistant
  • Moritz Hegert – stu­dent assistant
  • XXXPhD stu­dent (posi­tion will be filled soon)



Tro­by Ka-Yan Lui – PhD stu­dent

Felix Greul­ing – stu­dent assistant

Flo­ri­an Christo­pher Kroon – stu­dent assistant

Niko­las Makowka – lab manager

Jen­nifer Klotke – audi­ol­o­gist

Frauke Kraus – Intern



  • Under­stand­ing cap­ture and sup­pres­sion in audi­to­ry atten­tion (3‑year fund­ing from DFG, start­ing in 2024)

Sta­tus: open PhD posi­tion will soon be filled


  • Under­stand­ing the tem­po­ral dynam­ics of the audi­to­ry atten­tion­al fil­ter (fund­ing from DFG, 2019–2023)

Sta­tus: almost fin­ished, some data analy­sis ongoing

Project Pub­li­ca­tions:

Lui, T.K.Y. & Wöst­mann M. (2022). Effects of tem­po­ral­ly reg­u­lar ver­sus irreg­u­lar dis­trac­tors on goal-direct­ed cog­ni­tion and behav­ior. Sci­en­tif­ic Reports. 12, 10020. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022–13211‑3

Wöst­mann M., Lui, T.K.-Y., Friese, K.H., Kre­it­e­wolf, J., Nau­jokat, M., & Obleser, J. (2020). The vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of work­ing mem­o­ry to dis­trac­tion is rhyth­mic. Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia, Vol­ume 146, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107505

Lui T.K.-Y., Obleser J., Wöst­mann M. (2023). Slow neur­al oscil­la­tions explain tem­po­ral fluc­tu­a­tions in dis­tractibil­i­ty. Progress in Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy. 226, 102458. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2023.102458


  • Quan­tifi­ca­tion and pre­dic­tion of CI users’ bimodal ben­e­fit – A neu­ro-cog­ni­tive approach (fund­ing from Cochlear, 2019–2023)

Sta­tus: Data acqui­si­tion fin­ished, Data analy­sis and doc­u­men­ta­tion ongoing

Project Pub­li­ca­tions:

Kraus, F. Tune, S. Ruhe, A. Obleser, J., & Wöst­mann, M. (2021). Uni­lat­er­al acoustic degra­da­tion delays atten­tion­al sep­a­ra­tion of com­pet­ing speech. Trends in Hear­ing, Vol­ume 25, doi:10.1177÷23312165211013242


  • Rela­tion of Per­son­al­i­ty to Noise Sen­si­tiv­i­ty and Hear­ing-in-Noise (fund­ing from Inter­na­tion­al Hear­ing Foun­da­tion, 2019–2020)

Sta­tus: finished

Project Pub­li­ca­tions:

Wöst­mann M., Erb J., Kre­it­e­wolf J., & Obleser J. (2021) Per­son­al­i­ty cap­tures dis­so­ci­a­tions of sub­jec­tive ver­sus objec­tive hear­ing in noise. R. Soc. Open Sci. 8: 210881. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.210881


 Select­ed publications

Wöst­mann M., Störmer V., Obleser J., Ander­sen S.K., Gaspelin N., Geng J.J., Luck S.J., Noo­nan M.P., Slagter H., & Theeuwes J. (2022). Ten sim­ple rules to study dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion. Progress in Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy, 213 (2022), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2022.102269

Wöst­mann, M. (2022). Does atten­tion fol­low a rhythm? Nature Human Behav­iour, 6(9). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-022–01365‑z

Schnei­der, D., Herb­st, S. K., Klatt, L.-I., & Wöst­mann, M. (2021). Tar­get enhance­ment or dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion? Func­tion­al­ly dis­tinct alpha oscil­la­tions form the basis of atten­tion. The Euro­pean Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.15309

Wöst­mann M., Alavash M., & Obleser J. (2019). Alpha oscil­la­tions in the human brain imple­ment dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion inde­pen­dent of tar­get selec­tion. Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science, 39 (49), 9797–9805, doi: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1954–19.2019

Wöst­mann M., Vosskuhl J., Obleser J., & Her­rmann C.S. (2018). Oppo­site effects of lat­er­alised tran­scra­nial alpha ver­sus gam­ma stim­u­la­tion on audi­to­ry spa­tial atten­tion. Brain Stim­u­la­tion, 11:4, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2018.04.006

Wöst­mann M., Lim S.J., & Obleser J. (2017). The Human Neur­al Alpha Response to Speech is a Proxy of Atten­tion­al Con­trol. Cere­bral Cor­tex, 27(6): 3307–3317, https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhx074

Wöst­mann M., Her­rmann, B., Maess, B., & Obleser, J. (2016). Spa­tiotem­po­ral dynam­ics of audi­to­ry atten­tion syn­chro­nize with speech. PNAS, 113(14): 3873–3878, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1523357113


Link to com­plete list of publications.


Select­ed pub­lic media coverage

2021                Press release on Wöst­mann et al (2021). Roy­al Soci­ety Open                          Science

2020                Short report on Bild Online about Wöst­mann et al                                   (2020). Jour­nal of Cog­ni­tive Neuroscience

Press release on Wöst­mann et al (2020). Jour­nal of Cog­ni­tive Neuroscience

2017                Short fea­ture in Bay­erisch­er Rund­funk on Wöst­mann et                            al  (2016). PNAS

2016                NDR Schleswig-Hol­stein Mag­a­zin, short fea­ture about                           Wöst­mann et al (2016). PNAS

Press release on Wöst­mann et al (2016). PNAS

2015                Press Release on Wöst­mann et al (2015). Jour­nal of                                      Neuroscience