Anthony Sali
Assistant Professor of Psychology
(336) 758-4813
Greene Hall 428



I use a combination of studies of human behavior, eye tracking, human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the behavioral consequences and neural mechanisms associated with attentional and cognitive control.

  1. Do individuals harness previous learning to adapt the flexibility of goal-directed attention? A critical component of human cognition is the ability to flexibly shift the focus of attention, switch tasks (e.g. multitasking), and update the contents of working memory. Does an individual’s readiness to shift, known as cognitive flexibility, vary according to their previous experiences? To what degree does this flexibility extend across areas of cognitive control (e.g. visual attention, task-switching, and working memory updating)? What are the neural mechanisms involved in the acquisition and implementation of cognitive flexibility?

Selected Publications:

  • Sali, A. W., Anderson, B. A., & Yantis, S. (2013). Reinforcement learning modulates the stability of cognitive control settings for object selection. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, doi: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00095#sthash.rhlF9wgs.dpuf
  • Sali, A. W., Anderson, B. A., & Yantis, S. (2015).  Learned states of preparatory attentional control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41, 1790-1805.
  • Sali, A. W., Courtney, S. M., & Yantis, S. (2016). Spontaneous fluctuations in the flexible control of covert attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 445-454.
  • Xu, K. Z., Anderson, B. A., Emeric, E., Sali, A. W., Stuphorn, V., Yantis, S., & Courtney, S. M. (2017). Neural basis of cognitive control over movement inhibition: Human fMRI and primate electrophysiology evidence. Neuron, 96, 1447-1458.
  1. How does learning influence the involuntary deployment of attention? Do reward-associated items distract us more than non-rewarding items? Do our previous experiences influence where attention is deployed from moment to moment, even when these experiences conflict with our goals? In recent studies, I have tested whether reward-based attentional priority relies on reinforcement learning and have explored differences in reward-based attentional capture among children with ADHD and their typically-developing peers.

Selected Publications:

  • Sali, A. W., Anderson, B. A., & Yantis, S. (2014). The role of reward prediction in the control of attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40, 1654-1664.
  • Anderson, B. A., & Sali, A. W. (2015).  The impact of reward on attention: Beyond motivation. In T. S. Braver (Ed.), Motivation and Cognitive Control. Routledge.
  • Sali, A. W., Anderson, B. A., Yantis, S., Mostofsky, S. H., & Rosch, K. S. (2018). Reduced value-driven attentional capture among children with ADHD compared to typically-developing controls. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 46, 1187-1200.
  • Sali, A. W., Anderson, B. A., & Courtney, S. M. (2018). Information processing biases in the brain: Implications for decision-making and self-governance, Neuroethics, 11, 259-271.