I work at the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam where I perform research on visual perception, covering topics such as consciousness, attention, object categorization, figure-ground segregation, working memory and visual search. During my PhD I have used a combination of psychophysical methods, EEG and fMRI to determine the processing stages involved in conscious and unconscious vision. My first experiments focused on determining whether the initial sweep of cortical processing is consciously accessible, and which stages of information processing correlate with perception. Using a masking paradigm, I have shown that the brain detects stimuli during the first sweep of cortical processing, even when subjects are unaware of ever having processed these stimuli, culminating in a paper that is now highly cited in the literature. This and subsequent papers have shown that conscious experience emerges only when recurrent interactions take place between higher and lower cortical areas. Recently, I have further explored the extent and complexity of unconscious processing, extending my initial findings to show that the brain is not only able to detect stimuli outside of awareness, but that it is able to unconsciously extract highly complex information, such as the category of an object. After my PhD I have worked at Utrecht University as an assistant professor, and I am currently working as an assistant professor at the Free University (VU).
I am interested in exploring the relationship between cortical processing and conscious vision and to what degree the experience of seeing depends on attention. Particularly, I am interested in tying functional aspects of vision, as for example feature binding and predictive coding, to experiential aspects of vision, such as surface and shape perception in order to determine the relationship between function and experience. Contiguously, I am interested in determining to what degree conscious vision exists without selective attention as modulatory or causal force. Recently, I am expanding these questions into the domain of working memory.