Benjamin de Haas was a postdoctoral fellow and, for most of his time in the lab, was funded by the German research council (DFG) and hosted by Sam as well as Marty Sereno. Before that, he did a 4-year PhD in Neuroscience with Geraint Rees at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging. When he isn’t being chased around by faceless spectres or punched by gigantic stone fists, Ben is interested in how our brains enable us to see. His 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 he is interested in is how and why our perceptions of the visual world differ from each other. For instance, why can’t he and his wife agree on the colour of their curtains (*obviously* purple)? Is this merely a question of semantics? Or is this due to the fact different people 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? Ben is 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?
Harshil Patel did his 3rd year Biomedical Sciences research project in the lab. He conducted an experiment for a collaboration with Sheng Li’s lab in Peking University, Beijing. He investigated cross-cultural differences in perceptual biases and attentional deployment.
Shwe Ei did her 3rd year Biomedical Sciences research project in the lab. She investigated the heritability of spatial heterogeneity in simple and complex visual perception by means of a classical twin design.
Alexi Iakovidis did his MSci project supervised by Benjamin de Haas. He investigated individual differences in gaze behaviour and how they relate to personality.
Sanja Klein is an MSc student from Germany, who briefly visited our lab to do an internship with Benjamin de Haas. Her project investigated feature-location interactions in the perception of letter strings.
Victorita Neacsu did a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the ICN and did her research project in the lab. Her experiments investigated spatial heterogeneity in the perception and neural encoding of ambiguous visual images.
Kelda Manser-Smith studied for a MSc in Research Methods and did her research project in the lab. Her experiments tested methods our group developed for measuring perceptual biases whilst controlling for cognitive confounds. Specifically, she tested how particular forms of decision bias can affect results and investigated response bias and the role of feedback.
Nick Evans is an intercalated medical student who did his BSc research project in the lab. His psychophysical experiments investigated the mechanisms underlying size perception, with a particular focus on comparing objective performance and subjective appearance.
Christina Moutsiana was a postdoc employed on Sam’s ERC grant. She used fMRI and population receptive field analysis to map the functional architecture of visual brain regions and behavioural techniques for efficiently mapping the variability of perceptual functions across the visual field. Moreover, she worked on the segmentation of visual cortical regions based on high-resolution 7T anatomical images.
Christina originally trained at the University of Reading and Royal Holloway in visual neuroscience where she used functional MRI to study centre-surround interactions in visual cortex. She then moved to the study of emotion and decision making, first at Reading and subsequently here at UCL working with Tali Sharot. She developed an interest in how these processes differ in clinical populations and how they vary across the life span. In this context, she is particularly interested in the interactions between mental illness and perceptual processing. In September 2015 she left the lab to take up a lectureship at Kingston University but she continues to collaborate with the group.
Andriani Papageorgiou studied for an MSc Neuroscience and did her research project in the lab. Her experiments investigated heterogeneity in size perception across different locations and under different experimental conditions. For example, she tested the effects of attentional cuing or of distraction by ambient music (we uploaded the latter experiment as a public data set). She also did an experiment in collaboration with John Greenwood in which we tested the similarity of perceptual heterogeneity when stimuli are viewed with the left or right eyes only, which forms part of this larger study.
Gurmukh Panesar did a BSc in Psychology at Brunel University where his undergraduate dissertation investigated the interactions between reward and feedback on implicit grouping. He then studied for a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the ICN and he did his research project in the lab. His experiments used pRF analysis to investigate the neural processes of subjective perceptual grouping.
Rebecca Tyrwhitt-Drake studied for a MSci in Brain, Behaviour and Cognition at UCL and did her research project in the lab. Her functional MRI experiments compared population receptive field measurements from human visual cortex measured with stimuli defined by modal and amodal completion to normal luminance-defined stimuli.
Jelle van Dijk came to UCL to study for a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and he did his research project in the lab. His project assessed the test-retest reliability of population receptive field analysis using functional MRI. This work was published here. The data he analysed further contributed to experiments exploring the neural mechanisms that give rise to subjective biases in size perception. Jelle returned to the Netherlands where he is now PhD with Serge Dumoulin.
Annika Balraj was at UCL for a short study visit from George Washington University. She conducted experiments evaluating the efficiency and reliability of new psychophysical methods we have been developing. Specifically, her experiments used a well-studied example of low-level vision, orientation processing, to test how effective our methods are to detect spatial heterogeneity in perceptual biases. The results of these experiments form part of a larger study.
Theodora Banica did her research project in the lab in 2013 as part of her a Dual Master course in Brain and Mind Sciences. Her experiments investigated unconscious processing of illusory contours (Kanizsa figures). After completing her project she moved to Paris to do the second half of her course there. The findings of this project were published here.
Charlotte Wilks did her research project as a MSc Neuroscience student in the lab in 2012-13. Her experiments used perceptual learning of orientation discrimination to investigate the relationship between objective perceptual ability and subjective contextual illusions. The results of her research were published here.
Marco Fuscà visited us as a MSc student from Italy in the first half of 2013. In collaboration with Gareth Barnes, Sarah Gregory, and Geraint Rees at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, he used MEG to investigate the relationship between visual cortical functional architecture and oscillatory activity. The results of his project were published here.