Benjamin de Haas

British Museum

I’m a postdoctoral fellow funded by the German research council (DFG) and hosted by Sam as well as Marty Sereno. When I am not being chased around by faceless spectres or punched by gigantic stone fists, I am interested in how our brains enable us to see. My current research interests follow two broad questions:

How do ‘low level’ and ‘high level’ stages of visual processing interact? We know that cells in ‘early’ areas of the visual brain are tuned to simple things, like the orientation of edges, or to where in the visual field a stimulus appears. We also know that ‘later’ areas show tuning for more exciting properties of what we see, like ‘is it a face?’ What we don’t know is how these different stages of image processing interact. How does the brain go from oriented lines to recognizing a face? Are later stages of processing confined by earlier ones?

Another question I’m interested in is how and why our perceptions of the visual world differ from each other. For instance, why can’t my wife and I agree on the colour of our curtains (*obviously* purple)? Is this merely a question of semantics? Or is this due to the fact we literally see the world through different pairs of eyes?  If our perceptions differ from each other, does this extend to socially more relevant stimuli like faces? I’m especially interested in the interplay between perception, personality and social interaction. Does the individual way in which we see the world shape who we are and how we interact with each other?

Previously, I was employed as a PostDoc on Sam’s main grant. Before that I did a 4-year PhD in Neuroscience with Geraint Rees at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging. Please look at my homepage for an up-to-date list of publications.