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 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.
I completed my PhD in psychology at the University of Padua, under the supervision of Marco Zorzi, focusing on visual attention with an approach that combined behavioral experiments and computational modeling. I was interested into how visual attention works under different conditions, for example during the execution of eye movements, in conditions where multiple targets has to be attended at the same time, or after brain damage. My interests led me in 2012 to a first visit at the CAVlab, where I further investigated the interaction between attention and eye movements. I am now glad to be back in Paris as a postdoc, working with Patrick Cavanagh in a project that aims to find out how the brain code location, i.e. how it assign a perceived object to a specific location, and what is the role of attention and eye movement systems in this process
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.
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?
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.