Daniel Smilek


Dr. Smilek received his PhD from the University of Waterloo in 2002 and then completed a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia before joining the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo as a faculty member. Dr. Smilek has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles on various topics in the area of human cognitive neuroscience. His work has been published in some of the top journals in his field including Nature, Psychological Science, and Trends in Cognitive Sciences. He is a co-author of a undergraduate textbook on human cognition. Dr. Smilek is frequently involved in knowledge mobilization to the transportation industry with the aim of helping frontline workers reduce attention-related errors in safety critical settings.

Graduate Supervision:

Graduate students are encouraged to apply.

The Vision and Attention Lab focuses on understanding how attention and perception operate in everyday situations. This is addressed by using two distinct and complementary approaches. The first approach involves using standard laboratory tasks to uncover the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie attention and perception. The second approach involves observing and describing how attention and perception operate as individuals engage in purposeful activities in their natural environments.

Graduate students examine a variety of topics including visual search, inattention, mind wandering, attention-related errors, multitasking, learning and ‘flow’.

Selected Publications:

  • Seli, P., Risko, E. F., Smilek, D., & Schacter, D. L. (2016). Mind-wandering with and without intention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 605-617. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2016.05.010.
  • Thomson, D. R., Besner, D., & Smilek, D. (2015). A resource control account of sustained attention: Evidence from mind wandering and vigilance paradigms. Perspectives on Psychological Science,10, 82-96. DOI: 10.1177/1745691614556681.
  • Cheyne, J. A., Solman, G. J. F., Carriere, J. S. A. & Smilek D. (2009). Anatomy of an error: A bidirectional state model of task engagement/disengagement and attention-related error. Cognition, 111, 98-113.
University of Waterloo

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