Attention Dynamics Lab

Research Overview

We are interested in the ways infants, children, and adults focus and maintain attention on one task amidst a sea of choices. We use a variety of neuroscience methods, including eye-tracking, response time, EEG, and behavioural analyses to further our understanding of these processes.

We are interested in:

Researching the cognitive and physiological differences associated with developmental disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Examining how children in the classroom are able to concentrate and listen to the teacher, how this skill is associated with learning, and how this relationship changes over time.

Studying the development of early attention and memory processes in infants.

Researching the association between everyday forgetful events and memory processes.

Investigating the effects of exposure to nature (greenery) on concentration abilities in adults.

Research Tools

RT_FFT_ExG_Analysis_Johnsonetal Matlab file (ZIP 2.2 KB)



  • Shuting Li, PhD student, with Dr Emma Burrows
  • Rose Macauley, PhD student, with Professor Kathryn Williams and Dr Kate Lee
  • Madeleine Connolly, PhD student, with A/Professor Stefan Bode and A/Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha
  • Yi-En Quek, Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology student, with Professor Michael Saling
  • Kok Hon Leuar, Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology student, with Professor Michael Saling
  • Tim Doman, Masters in Clinical Psychology student
  • Reeva Ashton, Annabelle Pontvianne, James Coleman - Honours 2019

Completed PhD students

  • Dr. Benita Green - with Associate Professor Lesley Bretherton, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Keitaro Machida, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Jesse Smith - with Professor Nick Allen and Dr Julian Simmons, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Sally Richmond - with Professor Nick Allen, Associate Professor Sarah Whittle, Dr Marc Seal, Dr Richard Beare, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Frances Lewis - with Associate Professor Bob Reeve, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Chaille Breuer - with Associate Professor Bob Reeve, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Jane McGrath - with Professor Louise Gallagher, Professor Hugh Garavan, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin

Completed Masters students

  • Poh Wong (2016-2017) Masters in Educational Psychology
  • Max White (2016-2017) Masters in Educational Psychology
  • Dr. Scott McDonald (2016-2017) Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Mariana Theodorou (2013-2014) Masters in Clinical Psychology
  • Annalise Avitabile (2013-2014) Masters in Clinical Psychology
  • Emma Burrowes (2011-2012) Masters in Clinical Psychology
  • Alicia Mulholland, Queen’s University of Belfast (2009-2010) MSc in Atypical Child Development
  • Chelsea Maguire, Queen’s University of Belfast (2009-2010) MSc in Atypical Child Development

Completed Honours students

  • 2018: Yanchun Zheng, Tim Doman, Michaela Hughes
  • 2017: Nicole Nabout, Ashleigh De Winter, Ruby Pasquinelli, Phoebe Thomson
  • 2016: Sabbatical leave
  • 2015: Stella Milhailova, Brittany Cole, Jordana Mac
  • 2014: Marita Bryan, Kira Polonowita, Bowie Lau
  • 2013: Ebony Ziccardi, Neisha Kiernan, Jehan Gonsalkorale
  • 2012: Megan Antonucci
  • 2011: Phoebe Hammond, Kate Paton, Sarah Brcan
  • 2009/2010: Megan Whitehead, Catherine McElroy and Laura Bell (Queen’s University of Belfast)
  • 2008/2009: Sarah Denny (Trinity College Dublin)
  • 2007/2008 Michelle McCormick (Trinity College Dublin)
  • 2006/2007 Claire Waters (Trinity College Dublin)


  • Professor Kim Cornish, Monash University
  • Professor Kathryn Williams, Associate Professor Nick Williams, Dr Kate Lee, University of Melbourne and Professor Leisa Sargent, University of New South Wales
  • Professor Jennifer T. Coull, Aix-Marseille Université & CNRS
  • Dr Emma Burrows, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
  • Dr. Philippe Chouinard and Dr Oriane Landry, La Trobe University
  • Professor Michael Saling, Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne
  • Associate Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha, Dr Leila Larson, WEHI, Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs, Peter Doherty Institute, and Professor Jena Hamadani and Dr Imrul Hasan, icddr-Bangladesh, and Associate Professor Stefan Bode and Dr Daniel Feuerriegel, Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne


  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2019-2021)
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (2018-2020)
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project (2017-2020)

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Outcomes

Research Publications

    In press

  • Landry, O., Johnson, K A., Fleming, S., Crewther, S., Chouinard, P. A new look at the developmental profile of visual endogenous orienting. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, in press
  • Smith, J D., Johnson, K A., Whittle, S., Allen, N B., Simmons, J G. Measurement of cortisol, DHEA and testosterone in the hair of children: preliminary results and promising indications. Developmental Psychobiology, in press. DOI: 10.1002/dev.21807
  • Richmond, S., Schartz, O., Johnson, K A., Seal, M.L., Bray, K. L. Deane, C., Sheeber, L B., Allen, N B. Whittle, S. Exploratory Factor Analysis of Observational Parent-Child Interaction Data. Assessment, in press. DOI: 10.1177/1073191118796557
  • Published

  • Williams, K J W., Lee, KE., Hartig, T., Sargent, L D., Williams, N S. Johnson, K A. Conceptualising creativity benefits of nature experience: Attention restoration and mind wandering as complementary processes. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2018, 59(10), 36-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.08.005
  • Pasanen, T P., Johnson, K A., Lee, K W., Korpela, K M. Can nature walks with psychological tasks improve mood, self-reported restoration, and sustained attention? Results from two experimental field studies. Frontiers in Psychology, 2018. 9: 2057. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02057
  • Coull, J. T., Johnson, K A., Droit-Volet, S. A mental timeline for duration from the age of 5 years old. Frontiers in Psychology, 2018, 9:1155. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01155
  • McCarthy, H., Stanley, J., Piech, R., Wetterling, F., Skokauskas, N., Mulligan, A., Donohoe, G., Mullins, D., Kelly, J., Johnson, K., Fagan, A., Gill, M., Meaney, J., Frodl, T.  Childhood Diagnosed Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Symptom Progression and Reversal Learning in Adulthood. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2018, 22(6), 561-570. DOI: 10.1177/1087054716661233
  • Machida, K., Chin, M., Johnson, K.A. The provision of partial notes is not associated with improved student attention in lectures or subsequent understanding of the lecture material. Active Learning in Higher Education, 2018, 19(2).
  • Lewis, F.C., Reeve, R., Johnson, K.A. A Longitudinal Analysis of the Attention Networks in 6- to 11-year-old Children. Child Neuropsychology, 2018, 24(2), 145-165. DOI: 10.1080/09297049.2016.1235145.
  • Lewis, F.C., Reeve, R., Kelly, S.P., Johnson, K.A. Sustained attention to a predictable, unengaging Go/No-Go task shows ongoing development between 6 and 11 years. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 2017, 79(6), 1726-1741.DOI: 10.3758/s13414-017-1351-4.
  • Lewis, F.C., Reeve, R., Kelly, S.P., Johnson, K.A. Evidence of substantial development of inhibitory control and sustained attention between 6 and 8 years on an unpredictable Go/No-Go task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2017, 157, May, 66-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.12.008.
  • Johnson, K.A., Bryan, M., Polonowita, K., Decroupet, D., Coull, J.T. Isochronous sequential presentation helps children orient their attention in time. Frontiers in Psychology, 2016, Sep 22:7. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.0141.
  • Richmond, S., Johnson, K.A., Seal, M., Allen, N.B., Whittle, S. Development of Brain Networks and Relevance of Environmental and Genetic Factors: A Systematic Review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.08.024.
  • Tye, C., Johnson, K.A., Kelly, S. P., Asherson, P., Kuntsi, J., Ashwood, K.L., Azadi, B., Bolton, P., & McLoughlin, G. Response time variability under slow and fast-incentive conditions in children with ASD, ADHD and ASD+ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2016, 57(12), 1414-1423. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12608.
  • Johnson, K.A., Warr, D.J., Hegarty, K., Guillemin, M. Small wins: an initiative to promote gender equity in higher education. The Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 2015, 37(6), 689-701. DOI: 10.1080/1360080X.2015.1102820.
  • Lee, K.E., Williams, K.J., Sargent, L.D., Williams, N.S., Johnson, K.A. 40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restoration. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2015, 42(6), 182-189. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.04.003. As of July/August 2017, this highly cited paper received enough citations to place it in the top 1% of the academic field of Social Sciences, general based on a highly cited threshold for the field and publication year.
  • Johnson KA, Burrowes E, Coull JT (2015) Children Can Implicitly, but Not Voluntarily, Direct Attention in Time. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123625. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123625
  • Fitzgerald, J., Johnson, K.A., Kehoe, E., Bodke, A., Garavan, H., Gallagher, L., McGrath, J.  Disrupted functional connectivity in dorsal and ventral attention networks during attention orienting in autism spectrum disorders. Autism Research, 2015, 8(2), 136-152. DOI: 10.1002/aur.1430.
  • Johnson, K.A., Healy, E., Dooley, B., Kelly, S.P., McNicholas, F.  Children born with very low birth weight show difficulties with sustained attention but not response inhibition. Child Neuropsychology, 2015, 21(5),629-647. DOI: 10.1080/09297049.2014.964193.
  • McAvinue, L., Vangkilde, S., Johnson, K.A., Habekost, T., Kyllingsbaek, S., Bundesen, C., Robertson, I.H. A componential analysis of visual attention in children with ADHD.  Journal of Attention Disorders, 2015, 19(10), 882-894. DOI:10.1177/1087054712461935.
  • Green, B., Johnson, K.A., Bretherton, L.  Pragmatic language difficulties in children with hyperactivity and attention problems: an integrated review. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 2014, 49(1), 15-29. DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12056.
  • Paton, K., Hammond, P., Barry, E., Fitzgerald, M., McNicholas, F., Kirley, A., Robertson, I., Bellgrove, M A., Gill, M., Johnson, K A. Methylphenidate improves some but not all measures of attention, as measured by the TEA-Ch in medication-naïve children with ADHD. Child Neuropsychology, 2014, 20(3), 303-318. DOI: 10.1080/09297049.2013.790358.
  • Adamo, N., Di Martino, A., Esu, L., Petkova, E., Johnson, K.A., Kelly, S., Castellanos, F.X., Zuddas, A. Increased RT variability across different cognitive tasks in children with ADHD.  Journal of Attention Disorders, 2014, 18(5), 434-446. DOI: 10.1177/1087054712439419.
  • Johnson, K.A., Barry, E., Lambert, D., Fitzgerald, M., McNicholas, F., Kirley, A., Gill, M., Bellgrove, M.A., Hawi, Z. Methylphenidate side-effect profile is influenced by genetic variation in the ADHD-associated CES1 gene. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 2013, 23(10), 655-664. DOI: 10.1089/cap.2013.0032.
  • McGrath, J., Johnson, K.A., O’Hanlon, E., Garavan, H., Leemans, A., Gallagher, L.  Abnormal functional connectivity during visuospatial processing is associated with disrupted organisation of white matter in autism. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2013, 7:434. 34-52. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00434.
  • McCarthy, H., Skokauskas, N., Mulligan, A., Donohoe, G., Mullins, D., Kelly, J., Johnson, K A., Fagan, A., Gill, M., Meaney, J., Frodl, T. Attention network hypoconnectivity with default and affective network hyperconnectivity in adults diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Childhood. JAMA Psychiatry, 2013, 70(12), 1329-1337. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2174.
  • McGrath, J., Johnson, K.A., O’Hanlon, E., Garavan, H., Gallagher, L., Leemans, A.  White matter and visuospatial processing in autism: a constrained spherical deconvolution tractography study. Autism Research, 2013, 6(5), 307-319, published on-line 18 March 2013. doi: 10.1002/aur.1290.
  • McAvinue, L.P., Habekost, T., Johnson, K.A., Kyllingsbaek, S., Vangkilde, S., Bundesen, C., Robertson, I.H. Sustained attention, attentional selectivity, and attentional capacity across the lifespan. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 2012, 74(8), 1570-1582. DOI: 10.3758/s13414-012-0352-6.
  • McGrath, J., Johnson, K.A., Ecker, C., O’Hanlon, E., Gill, M., Gallagher, L., Garavan, H. Atypical visuospatial processing in autism: insights from functional connectivity analysis. Autism Research, 2012, 5(5), 314-330. doi: 10.1002/aur.1245.
  • Badawy, R., Johnson, K.A., Cook, M.J., Harvey, A.S. A mechanistic appraisal of cognitive dysfunction in epilepsy. Accepted in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 13/5/2012.
  • Adamo, N., Di Martino, A., Esu, L., Petkova, E., Johnson, K.A., Kelly, S., Castellanos, F.X., Zuddas, A. Increased RT variability across different cognitive tasks in children with ADHD. Accepted in Journal of Attention Disorders 26/1/2012.
  • McAvinue, L., Vangkilde, S., Johnson, K.A., Habekost, T., Kyllingsbaek, S., Robertson, I.H., Bundesen, C.  The relationship between sustained attention, attentional selectivity and capacity.  Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 2012, 24(3), 313-328.  DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2011.628653.
  • Braet, W., Johnson, K.A., Tobin, C.T., Acheson, R., McDonnell, C., Hawi, Z., Barry, E., Mulligan, A., Gill, M., Bellgrove, M.A., Robertson, I.H., Garavan, H.  fMRI activation during response inhibition and error processing: The role of the DAT1 gene in typically developing adolescents and those diagnosed with ADHD.  Neuropsychologia, 2011, 49(7), 1641-1650.  doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.01.001.
  • Wood A.C., Rijsdijk F., Johnson K.A., Andreou P., Albrecht B., Arias-Vasquez A., Buitelaar J.K., McLoughlin G., Rommelse N.N.J., Sergeant J.A., Sonuga-Barke E.J.S., Uebel H., van der Meere J.J., Banaschewski T., Gill M., Manor I., Miranda A., Mulas F., Oades R.D., Roeyers H., Rothenberger A., Steinhausen H.C., Faraone S.V., Asherson P., & Kuntsi J.  The relationship between ADHD and cognitive phenotypes is not mediated by shared familial effects with IQ. Psychological Medicine, 2011, 41(4), 861-871. doi:10.1017/S003329171000108X.
  • Kuntsi, J., Wood, A.C., Rijsdijk, F., Johnson, K.A., Andreou, P., Albrecht, B., Arias-Vasquez, A., Buitelaar, J.K., McLoughlin, G., Rommelse, N.N.J., Sergeant, J.A., Sonuga-Barke, E.J., Uebel, H., van der Meere, J.J., Banaschewski, T., Gill, M., Manor, I., Miranda, A., Mulas, F., Oades, R.D., Roeyers, H.D., Rothenberger, A., Steinhausen, H-C., Faraone, S.V., Asherson, P.  Separation of cognitive impairments in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder into two familial factors.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 2010, 67:1159-1166.  doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.139.
  • Johnson, K.A., Dáibhis, A., Tobin, C., Acheson, R., Watchorn, A., Mulligan, A., Barry, E., Bradshaw, J.L., Gill, M., Robertson, I.H.  Right-sided spatial difficulties in ADHD demonstrated in continuous movement control. Neuropsychologia, 2010, 48(5), 1255-1264. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.12.026.
  • Braet, W., Johnson, K.A., Tobin, C., Acheson, R., Bellgrove, M.A., Robertson, I.H., Garavan, H.  Functional developmental changes underlying response inhibition and error-detection processes. Neuropsychologia, 2009, 47(14), 3143-51.
  • Bellgrove, M.A., Johnson, K.A., Barry, E., Mulligan, A., Hawi, Z., Gill, M., Robertson, I.H., Chambers, C.D.  Dopaminergic haplotype as a predictor of spatial inattention in children with ADHD. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2009, 66(10), 1135-1142. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.120.
  • Johnson, K.A., Wiersema, J. R., Kuntsi, J.  What would Karl Popper say - Are current psychological theories of ADHD falsifiable? Behavioral and Brain Functions, 2009, 5:15 (Highly Accessed). doi:10.1186/1744-9081-5-15.
  • Johnson, K.A., Robertson, I.H. Barry, E., Mulligan, A., Dáibhis, A., Daly, M., Watchorn, A., Gill, M., Bellgrove, M.A. Impaired conflict resolution and alerting in children with ADHD: evidence from the Attention Network Task (ANT).  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2008, 49(12), 1339-1347. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01936.x.
  • Johnson, K.A., Kelly, S.P., Robertson, I.H. Barry, E., Mulligan, A., Daly, M., Lambert, D., McDonnell, C., Connor, T.J., Hawi, Z., Gill, M., Bellgrove, M.A.  Absence of the 7-repeat variant of the DRD4 VNTR is associated with drifting sustained attention in children with ADHD but not in controls.  American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 2008, 147B(6), 927-937. Doi:10.1002/ajmg.b.30718.  Winner of the European Psychiatric Association Research Prize (Child & Adolescent Psychiatry) 2009.]
  • Greene, C.M., Braet, W., Johnson, K.A., Bellgrove, M.A.  Imaging the genetics of executive function.  Biological Psychology, 2008, 79, 30-42.  doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.11.009.
  • Bellgrove, M.A., Barry, E., Johnson, K.A., Cox, M., Dáibhis, A., Daly, M., Hawi, Z., Lambert, D., Lawlor, M., Moran, T., Fitzgerald, M., McNicholas, F., Robertson, I. H., Gill, M., Kirley, A. Spatial attentional bias as a marker of genetic risk, symptom severity and stimulant response in ADHD.  Neuropsychopharmacology,2008, 33(10), 2536-2545.  doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1301637.
  • Johnson, K.A., Barry, E., Bellgrove, M.A., Cox, M., Kelly, S.P., Dáibhis, A., Daly, M., Fitzgerald, M., McNicholas, F., Kirley, A., Robertson, I.H., Gill, M.  Dissociation in response to methylphenidate administration on sustained attention in a group of medication naïve children with ADHD.  Neuropsychologia, 2008, 46(5), 1532-1541. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.01.002.
  • Sanders, J., Johnson, K.A.., Garavan, H., Gill, M., Gallagher, L.  A review of neuropsychological and neuroimaging research in Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Attention, inhibition and cognitive flexibility.  Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2008, 2, 1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2007.03.005.
  • Bellgrove, M.A., Chambers, C.D., Johnson, K.A., Dáibhis, A., Daly, M., Hawi, Z., Lambert, D., Gill, M., Robertson, I.H.  Dopaminergic genotype biases spatial attention in healthy children.  Molecular Psychiatry, 2007, 12(8), 786-792. doi:10.1038/
  • Johnson, K.A., Robertson, I.H., Kelly, S.P., Silk, T.J., Barry, E., Dáibhis, A., Watchorn, M., Keavey, M., Fitzgerald, M., Gallagher, L., Gill, M., Bellgrove, M.A.  Dissociation in performance of children with ADHD and autism on a task of sustained attention.  Neuropsychologia, 2007, 45, 2234-2245.  doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.02.019.
  • Johnson, K.A., Kelly, S.P., Bellgrove, M.A., Barry, E., Cox, M., Gill, M., Robertson, I.H.  Response variability in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: evidence for neuropsychological heterogeneity. Neuropsychologia, 2007, 45, 630-638.  doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.03.034.
  • Rinehart NJ, Tonge BJ, Bradshaw J, L., Iansek R, Enticott PG, Johnson KA.  Movement-Related Potentials in Autism and Asperger's disorder. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 2006, 48, 272-277.  DOI: 10.1017/S0012162206000594.
  • Johnson. K.A., Cunnington. R., Bradshaw. J.L., Chiu. E., Iansek. R.  Effect of an attentional strategy on movement-related potentials recorded from subjects with Huntington’s disease.  Movement Disorders, 2002, 17, 998 – 1003.  DOI: 10.1002/mds.10204.
  • Johnson. K.A., Cunnington. R., Iansek. R.,Bradshaw. J.L., Georgiou. N., Chiu. E. Movement related potentials in Huntington’s disease – movement preparation and execution.  Experimental Brain Research, 2001, 138, 492 - 499.  DOI: 10.1007/s002210100733.
  • Bellgrove, M.A., Bradshaw, J.L., Velakoulis, D., Johnson, K.A., Rogers, M.A., Smith, D., Pantelis, C. Bimanual coordination in chronic schizophrenia. Brain and Cognition, 2001, 45, 325-341.  doi:10.1006/brcg.2000.1261.
  • Johnson. K.A., Bennett., J.E., Georgiou, N., Bradshaw, J.L., Chiu, E., Cunnington, R., Iansek, R.  Bimanual co-ordination in Huntington’s disease.  Experimental Brain Research, 2000, 134, 483-489. DOI 10.1007/s002210000485.
  • Johnson, K.A., Cunnington, R., Bradshaw, J.L., Phillips, J., Iansek, R., Rogers, M. Bimanual Coordination in Parkinson’s disease. Brain, 1998, 121, 734-753.  Doi: 10.1093/brain/121.4.743.
  • Cunnington, R., Iansek, R., Johnson, K.A., Bradshaw, J.L.  Movement-related potentials in Parkinson’s Disease. Motor imagery and movement preparation. Brain, 1997, 120, 1339-1353.  doi: 10.1093/brain/120.8.1339.

Research Projects

Faculty Research Themes

Neuroscience, Child Health

School Research Themes

Cognitive Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology, Developmental Psychology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Laboratory Director Associate Professor Katherine Johnson

Department / Centre

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

Unit / Centre

MDHS Research library
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