Research

I am interested in human cognition and perception, and particularly in working memory, selective attention, and perceptual integration over time. All in one: How do we perceive coherent objects and events, attend to them while ignoring others, and then remember them for a while when they have disappeared again? To study the brain in action, I often use electroencephalography (EEG), next to measuring task performance.

Temporal integration

One topic that I study in my research is how we perceive things that happen quickly, and integrate them into coherent events. For example, why is watching a movie generally a smooth, flicker-free experience? Why do we not notice the rapid slideshow of still images that the movie really consists of? Put differently: Why do we integrate these images over time, when we can principally resolve much faster events, such as the flickering of a fluorescent light bulb?

Selective attention

It is clear that attention plays an important role in the perception of rapid events. Anyone who has seen a magician performing tricks will realize that despite what we may sometimes think, we cannot easily attend to multiple things at once, even if they are in full view. In the lab, I study how and when we select the right things to attend to, and when we do not, and end up distracted.

Working memory

Eventually, our perceptual experience becomes only what we remember of it, and unfortunately, our memory is not limitless. In fact, we can hold only a handful of items in working memory at any one time. I am interested in finding out how our brains actually support working memory, how we can optimize that rather limited memory store, and what might at times prevent us from doing so.