Martin inaugurated as Heisenberg Professor

Martin has accepted an offer from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin to become a Heisenberg professor for Experimental Psychology: Active Perception and Cognition (or, in German: Allgemeine Psychologie: Aktive Wahrnehmung und Kognition) and set up a new group at the Psychology Department. He has been inaugurated on Tuesday. The Heisenberg professorship has been awarded to Martin by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), providing the university with additional funding to facilitate the pursuit of new directions of research.

Our lab is going to move to the Psychology Department in just a few months, once the lab space and offices have been finished. We are still maintaining a strong connection to the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin, and also the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.

This is an exciting step for the lab as it will allow us to consolidate our research program in Berlin and open up opportunities to extend it in new directions. Stay tuned for that.

Here is the official press release:


Science of Intelligence (SCIoI)

Martin is part of the highly interdisciplinary group of PIs involved in the preparation of the pre-application for an Excellence Cluster Science of Intelligence (short: SCIoI). Over the last year, we have worked in a group of >20 PIs from fields across a broad range of  disciplines (biology, computer vision, educational research, philosophy, physics, psychology, robotics, sociology, …), and crafted an intriguing proposal. The aim of this inspiring endeavour is to forge a new discipline — the science of intelligence — which systematically bridges analytical and synthetic disciplines. The Technical University Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin have co-submitted the pre-application to the DFG in March. We are excited to hear about a possible invitation to the second round of applications by the end of September. Stay tuned!

For more information, check our website:

New paper on dynamic changes orientation tuning before saccades.

We are excited to announce that our new paper on local changes in orientation tuning before saccades has just appeared in the Journal of Vision. Here is the link. Clara and Sven did worked together extremely well to get this project from conception to publication in less than two years!

In this study, we combined a time-resolved reverse-correlation technique with statistical modeling to explore the nature of a fundamental selective mechanism in active human vision: the anticipatory processing of the next gaze location (or, pre-saccadic attention shift as we often call it). We found that planning a saccadic eye movement involves dynamic changes in perception, including a feature-specific increase in gain and finer orientation tuning at the target, that were not observed at a non-target location. These findings bridge behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying changing priorities in active visual processing.

We are particularly happy with the result, as it confirms previous results from Marisa Carrasco’s group (Li, Barbot, & Carrasco, 2016) using an entirely different paradigm and extends them by showing that changes in orientation tuning are spatially specific to the target of the eye movement.

In press: New paper on feature-based attention and saccadic eye movements.

Betty’s paper on the continuity of feature-based attention across saccadic eye movements has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Vision. Congratulations, Betty!

A pdf of the preprint is available here. And here is the abstract:

Saccadic eye movements do not disrupt the deployment of feature-based attention

The tight link of saccades to covert spatial attention has been firmly established, yet their relation to other forms of visual selection remains poorly understood. Here, we studied the temporal dynamics of feature-based attention (FBA) during fixation and across saccades. Participants reported the orientation (on a continuous scale) of one of two sets of spatially interspersed Gabors (black or white). We tested performance at different intervals between the onset of a colored cue (black or white, indicating which stimulus was the most probable target; red: neutral condition) and the stimulus. FBA built up after cue onset: benefits (errors for valid vs neutral cues), costs (invalid vs neutral), and the overall cueing effect (valid vs invalid) increased with the cue-stimulus interval. Critically, we also tested visual performance at different intervals after a saccade, when FBA had been fully deployed before saccade initiation. Cueing effects were evident immediately after the saccade and predicted most accurately and most precisely by fully-deployed FBA, indicating that FBA was continuous throughout saccades. Finally, a decomposition of orientation reports into target reports and random guesses confirmed continuity of report precision and guess rates across the saccade. We discuss the role of FBA in perceptual continuity across saccades.

Kalogeropoulou, Z. & Rolfs, M. (2017). Saccadic eye movements do not disrupt the deployment of feature-based attention. Journal of Vision, in press

Clara moderates panel discussion on Animal Research

Clara Kuper, student assistant in our lab, will moderate a panel and audience discussion on animal research and its ethical implications on April 24, 2017. The discussion will feature a number of first-class experts on animal research and welfare, including:

Prof. Dr. Stefan Treue, Director of the German Primate Research Centre, Göttingen
Prof. Dr. Christa Thöne-Reineke, Professor for Animal Welfare, Animal Behavior and Laboratory Animal Science, FU Berlin
Dr. Richard Moore, Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist, HU Berlin
Dr. Mimi Arandjelovic, Project coordinator of the Pan African Programme, MPI Leipzig

The official poster (including more information) can be downloaded here.

Way to go, Clara!

Richard receives VSS 2017 student travel award

Congratulations to our very own Richard Schweitzer for being awarded a student travel award to attend the meeting of the Vision Sciences Society Meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida, in May. The award is extremely competitive as only 20 out of more than 200 applicants have been selected. Quite a good start into his first VSS!

Make sure to attend Richard’s talk in the Eye Movements: Fixation and perception session, on Tuesday, May 23 (8:15 am – 9:45 am) in Talk Room 2.

VSS 2017: 3 talks, 1 poster, and 1 student travel award

We were very excited to get the news that 3 of our 4 presentations have been accepted as talks at the 2017 meeting of the Vision Sciences Society in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Partly in collaboration with Tamara Watson (University of Western Sydney, Australia) and Eric Castet (Aix-Marseille Université, France), we started working on visual processing during saccadic eye movements, which will be the main theme of our contributions this year. We are looking forward to see what people think about this new line of work.

In particular we are happy for Richard Schweitzer, who just started his PhD in the lab. He was selected for a highly competitive VSS Student Travel Award to support his trip to this year’s meeting. Congratulations!

Opinion article on Oculomotor prediction in psychosis in press in TiCS

Together with Katy Thakkar (Michigan State University) and Vaibhav Diwadkar (Wayne State University), we just wrote an opinion piece on the role of corollary discharge in psychosis, and how prediction in the oculomotor system may help us understand the complex polygenic disorder schizophrenia. The review is going to be published in one of the next issues of Trends in Cognitive Sciences. For now, here is the abstract:

Psychosis—an impaired contact with reality—is a hallmark of schizophrenia. Many psychotic symptoms are associated with disruptions in agency—the sense that I cause my actions. A failure to predict sensory consequences of one’s own actions may underlie agency disturbances. Such predictions rely on corollary discharge (CD) signals, “copies” of movement commands sent to sensory regions prior to action execution. Here, we make a case that the oculomotor system is a promising model for understanding CD in psychosis, building on advances in our understanding of the behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of CD associated with eye movements. We provide an overview of recent evidence for disturbed oculomotor CD in schizophrenia, potentially linking bizarre and disturbing psychotic experiences with basic physiological processes.