Nilli Lavie

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Nilli Lavie
NationalityIsraeli British
Alma materTel Aviv University
Known forPerceptual Load Theory
AwardsBPS Cognitive Section Award, EPS Mid-Career Award
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive Neuroscience
InstitutionsUniversity College London (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience)

Nilli Lavie, FBA, is an academic, psychologist, and neuroscientist with British-Israeli dual nationality.

A Professor of Psychology and Brain Sciences and Director of the Attention and Cognitive Control laboratory at the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, she is an elected Fellow of the British Academy, American Psychological Society, Royal Society of Biology, and British Psychological Society.

An honorary life member of the UK Experimental Psychology Society, she is known for providing a resolution to the 40 year debate on the role of attention in information processing and as the creator of the Perceptual load theory of attention, perception and cognitive control.[1]

Biography and education[edit]

Lavie earned BA Degrees in Psychology and in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University in 1987, and completed a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Tel Aviv University in 1993.[2]

In the mid-nineties she received the Miller fellowship for postdoctoral training at UC Berkeley, which she held in Anne Treisman's laboratory. Following her postdoctoral training, she moved to the UK where she married the late Jon Driver and held her first faculty job at the MRC-Applied Psychology Unit (now the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit) in Cambridge, UK. In late 1995 she joined UCL where she currently works and has written over 100 scientific papers.[3]

Awards and honours[edit]

She has received a British Psychological Society Cognitive Section Award for outstanding contribution to research in 2006.[4] In 2011, she was selected as an "inspirational woman" in the WISE Campaign (Women into Science, Engineering and Construction).[citation needed] In 2012, she received the Mid-Career Award from the Experimental Psychology Society.[5]

She was named an 'Academic Champion' at UCL (PALS division)(2012). She was also selected as an academic role model at UCL Faculty of Life Sciences (2012).[6]


Lavie's research[7][8][9][10][11] concerns the effects of information load on brain mechanisms, psychological functions (perception, conscious awareness, memory and emotion) and behaviour. This research is guided by the framework of her Load theory of attention and cognitive control.[10][12] Lavie originally proposed the Load Theory in the mid-nineties[7] to resolve the "Locus of Attentional Selection" debate.[13]

Load Theory offered a new approach concerning the nature of information processing that reconciles the apparently contradicting views in this debate regarding the issue of capacity limits versus automaticity of processing. In Load Theory - perceptual information processing has limited capacity but processing proceeds automatically on all information within its capacity. The theory made an important contribution to the understanding of the impact of attention on information processing, visual perception and awareness. It explains how people use their working memory during task performance and the ways in which people can exert cognitive control over their perception, attention and behaviour.[10][12][14]

In the media[edit]

Lavie has made numerous media appearances in many TV science documentary programmes,[15][16][17][18] interviews, and articles in British print and electronic media, including BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News, Channel 4, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, New Scientist, The Daily Telegraph, as well as international media outlets.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37]


  1. ^ "People - Attention and Cognitive Control Group". Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  2. ^ UCL (2018-01-29). "nilli-lavie". UCL Psychology and Language Sciences. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  3. ^ Lavie, Nilli. "Google Scholar Citations". Google Scholar. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Cognitive Section Annual Award Winners". Wayback Machine. The British Psychological Society. Archived from the original on 2018-02-19. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  5. ^ "EPS Mid-Career Award". 17 October 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  6. ^ "SLMS Academic Role Models". issuu. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b Lavie, N. (1995). Perceptual load as a necessary condition for selective attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 21, pp. 451-68.
  8. ^ Lavie, N. (2000). Selective attention and cognitive control: dissociating attentional functions through different types of load. In S. Monsell & J. Driver (Eds.). Attention and performance XVIII, pp. 175–94. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT press.
  9. ^ Lavie, N. (2005) "Distracted and confused?: selective attention under load", Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, pp. 75-82.
  10. ^ a b c Lavie, N. (2010) Attention, Distraction and Cognitive Control under Load. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(3), pp. 143-58
  11. ^ Lavie, N. & Tsal, Y. (1994). Perceptual load as a major determinant of the locus of selection in visual attention. Perception & Psychophysics, 56, pp. 183-97.
  12. ^ a b Lavie, N., Hirst, A., De Fockert, J. W. & Viding, E. (2004) Load theory of selective attention and cognitive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, pp. 339-54.
  13. ^ Murphy, Gillian; Groeger, John A.; Greene, Ciara M. (2016-10-01). "Twenty years of load theory—Where are we now, and where should we go next?". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 23 (5): 1316–1340. doi:10.3758/s13423-015-0982-5. ISSN 1531-5320. PMID 26728138.
  14. ^ Carmel, D., Fairnie, J., & Lavie, N. (2012). Weight and see: loading working memory improves incidental identification of irrelevant faces. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, p. 286.
  15. ^ "Series 1 - Terror in the Skies". Channel 4. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  16. ^ "How to Avoid Mistakes in Surgery, 2012-2013, Horizon". BBC. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  17. ^ Barry, Tom, The Truth Behind Crop Circles, retrieved 18 February 2018
  18. ^ Weird Connections: Invisible Gorilla (Season 2 Episode 3), retrieved 18 February 2018
  19. ^ Discovery Channel. "They Really Didn't Hear You". Discovery Channel.
  20. ^ "Watch Out! Visual Concentration Can Leave You Temporarily 'Deaf'". ABC News. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Science Update: The Science Radio News Feature of the AAAS". 16 December 2015.
  22. ^ "Deutsche Welle". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Why youngsters zone out when playing computer games". The Daily Telegraph.
  24. ^ "Deaf to the World". The Times.
  25. ^ "Staring at your phone screen can make you temporarily 'deaf'". Tech Insider.
  26. ^ "Zoning out: Teenagers really can't hear you when playing computer games". Express. 9 December 2015.
  27. ^ "Smart Phones Actually Cause Temporary Deafness". Mirror Daily.
  28. ^ John, Tara (9 December 2015). "There's a Scientific Reason Why You're Ignoring People, Study Says". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Focusing On A Task May Leave You Temporarily Deaf: Study". Tech Times.
  30. ^ "Why you can get away with not hearing your partner while you're flicking through Facebook on your phone". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  31. ^ Carroll, Linda. "Here's why you can't hear people when you're scrolling on your phone".
  32. ^ "Apparently We All Spend Over A Quarter Of Our Time Being Distracted". Marie Claire. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  33. ^ "Can you hear me now? Study: Screens can interfere with hearing". Good Morning America. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  34. ^ "How good are you at concentrating? Take the test". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  35. ^ Epstein, Sarah. "Can you spot the O's? This teaser tests just how distracted you are". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  36. ^ "How quickly can you spot the two 'O's in these puzzles?". The Independent.
  37. ^ Ambridge, Ben (7 February 2016). "How good are you at concentrating?". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 February 2018.