I started as a computer/electrical engineer, wanting to make thinking computers. But then I thought, why not study the really big computer. I retooled in Pittsburgh, moved to Montreal and then Cambridge and now Paris. Research in vision is an adventure of discovery, full of surprises and challenges, with the ever pleasant company of hardy, ingenious colleagues and students. We are like tourists observing and describing the mysterious customs and rituals of the visual system. OK, sometimes the weather turns bad, the luggage is lost, and we take the wrong road. But what a fabulous trip. Currently traveling through attention and the position sense.
My interest in visual perception was sparked as an undergraduate at the Australian National University, where I also completed my PhD with Mark Edwards (2004-2007). My work in this time focussed on the integrative processes required to perceive multiple directions of motion simultaneously. These interests in low-level vision developed during a postdoctoral fellowship at University College London with Steven Dakin and Peter Bex (2008-2010). In this time I focussed on peripheral vision and crowding, the deleterious effect of ‘clutter’ on object recognition, in both the ‘normal’ visual system and in children with amblyopia. Along the way I have also examined our perception of depth, position, and numerosity, as well as change-detection and attention. I am endlessly fascinated by the many tasks accomplished by the brain, and hope to uncover more of its secrets as I examine issues in spatial vision and crowding with Patrick Cavanagh and the CAVlab.
My research focuses on the interplay between attention, eye movements and visual perception. While I had already developed a liking for cognitive psychology and research on visual perception during my first two years of study at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, I fell in love with eye movement research while conducting my diplom (former German equivalent to MSc/MA) thesis in the lab of Boris M. Velichkovsky at Dresden University of Technology, Germany. In my PhD project at Dirk Kerzel's lab at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, I investigated the influence of visual distractors on eye movement latencies: What can make us hesitate to change our line of sight? Which visual events can capture our gaze? How can this be modulated by intentions or expections? Part of this research was also conducted during my three-month research stay in the lab of Jan Theeuwes, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL. After my PhD, I continued my work with Dirk Kerzel in Geneva as a postdoc, this time focussing more on the role of attention while performing eye movements: Does the attentional and the oculomotor system share the same resources? Is there a mandatory coupling between target selection for eye movements and attention? If so, are there attentional consequences that are unaffected by eye movements? These studies were conducted in close collaboration with Ulrich Ansorge, University of Vienna, Austria. Further, I had the opportunity to visit Jay Pratt's lab in Toronto, Canada for two months, examining feature-based attentional effects on temporal order judgements (coming soon...). I also became interested in questions of visual stability: how do we perceive our world as stable despite continuously changing visual input due to (eye) movements. From there, it was only natural to apply for a job at the CAVlab where I am involved in research centering exactly aroung this question. For instance, in one of my current projects in collaboration with Eckart Zimmermann, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, we try to disentangle which perceptual phenomena may be signature effects of compensatory mechanisms for eye movements (remapping) and which may not.
I am interested in visual attention, eye movements and spatial perception. I have focused on how the brain creates a stable visual percept across eye movements and which role spatial attention plays in this process. Other interests are visual attention in visual search, attention in consciousness, cross modal perception and synaesthesia, that is, the experience of two sensory modalities where there is only one sensory input.
After finishing an MSc in Neurosciences at Utrecht University including an 8 month internship at the Vision Lab in Boston, I started a PhD with Patrick Cavanagh in the CAV lab in Paris in November 2008. I am interested in many different aspects of vision such as crowding, grouping, object recognition, binding etc. The brain's ability to process an large amount of different elements in a matter of milliseconds and build a coherent concept from that information is truly amazing. However, the brain sometimes fails or takes an alternative approach, which can also help us understand the mechanisms behind perception better. And why does the brain choose to use certain cues while ignoring others? These are all questions that keep me busy. Apart from psychophysics I have a sweet tooth for fMRI and would like to learn about other techniques some time in the future as well.
After a Master in Philosopy centered on the interaction between action and perception in Bergson (University of Tours, France, 2008) and a Master in Cognitive Sciences (ENS, EHESS, Paris Descartes, Paris, France, 2011), I joined the CavLab as a PhD student to focus my work on the understanding of how a long-training in drawing can affect and perhaps modify the visual system organization and its processing. Typically, why are some people better at drawing than others? What does the visual system must learn for allowing an accurate drawing? What and how visual information must be processed and integrated in sight of the motor production?