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.
At the University of Glasgow I completed a masters and PhD on predictive feedback to the primary visual cortex (V1) during saccades under the supervision of Prof. Lars Muckli. V1 has been found to receive cortical feedback from higher order regions which aid processing of sensory input. However, the effect of continuous eye-movements on the feedback of higher cortical signals to V1 had not been established. Using visual illusions and complex natural scene paradigms in fMRI, we showed that saccade initiation caused cortical signals to be fed-back to new retinotopic regions of V1, indicating that feedback can update in-time with saccadic eye-movements.
In the CAVLab, my interest in saccadic remapping has been furthered through studying predictive target perception according to saccade maps. Saccade maps are retinotopically organized locations of saccade targets thought to be created by the frontal eye fields (FEF) and/or intraparietal sulcus (IPS). Specifically, we aim to study the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over FEF and IPS to determine if the magnetic stimulation affects predictive target perception in motion extrapolation and saccadic remapping of expected stimuli.
Focusing on control and learning in the human oculomotor system, my work aims at showing that eye movement consequences can play a fundamental – reinforcing – role in the modification of saccadic properties.
First, in the series of experiments I conducted during my undergraduate and graduate studies in Lille 3 under Prof. L. Madelain’s supervision, we eliminated retinal error and provided auditory consequences after saccades met specific criteria of gain median or variability. The increases and decreases induced in gain levels were similar to adaptations obtained via a double-step paradigm, and our reinforcement procedures modified saccadic gain variability independently of the median. These results show that a general operant learning process can guide changes in saccadic gain distributions. These studies focused on single horizontal saccades.
Then I studied saccades generated during visual search. We designed a new research paradigm involving a visual search task where finding a target among distractors was effective at reinforcing various levels of saccadic amplitude variability. I extended this work during a first postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. K. Gegenfurtner and Dr. A. Schütz by assessing the influence of learned contingencies between specific saccadic responses and their visual consequences during a visual search task in a noisy background. Taken together, these findings indicate that in real life, seeing the target appears to be a visual consequence determining visual search strategies.
In the CAVlab, I am currently investigating how learning influences the perception of the predicted saccadic consequences. After saccade targets had changed during the eye movement, what did we (learn to) see?
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.
I joined the Cavlab as a PhD student to study visual attention across saccadic eye movements. Patrick Cavanagh and Therese Collins are my co-supervisors.
I have a background in mechanical engineering, which was driven by my curiosity to explore how the world works. At that time, perception and the complexity of the human brain already fascinated me. My recent switch to psychology focuses my interests onto the attentional system and visual processing.
Eye movements bring onto the fovea parts of the world, providing detailed visual information. A first question of my project deals with peripheral, i.e. non-foveal, visual features and their correspondence between pre- and post- saccadic positions. Oculometric measurements and performance in visual searches will be used to disentangle how feature-based attention and eye movements could interact.
After a Master in integrative and cognitive neurosciences at Aix-Marseille University, I joined Patrick Cavanagh's ERC Advanced Project POSITION as a Doctoral Student. My research is essentially based at the Timone Neuroscience Institute in Marseille where, with Laurent Goffart, we study the neurophysiology of the visual orienting reaction. My study is focused on the visual tracking behavior, particularly, on deciphering the processes that maintain saccades toward a moving object accurate, and how these processes are built. Another important question relate to the brain encoding of the current position of a moving object.
My interest in studies of visual perception and attention developed during the undergraduate course in Psychology in Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. My undergraduate research project with Dr. Maria Kuvaldina aimed to elucidate the mechanisms behind the phenomenon of inattentional blindness. In 2012-2013, I joined the Attention Group in Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (Oxford, UK) as a Masters student supervised by Dr. Mark Stokes and Dr. MaryAnn Noonan. My research project was using EEG to explore the neural mechanisms for selective inhibition. I am fascinated by the evidence of how the brain predicts the future states of the world and how, overall, prediction shapes perception. This is why I am excited to immerse myself in the world of saccade and attention studies joining Patrick Cavanagh and Therese Collins as a PhD student. My project will explore the coding of location in the brain, using a number of striking prediction-related phenomena.