Below, you can find descriptions of some of the research lines we are currently pursuing with great excitement!
With our research, we want to understand how our brains create our rich and fascinating visual experiences.
Explaining individual differences in natural vision
Everyone sees the world with their own eyes - and their own brains. One reason why perception is different across people is that we all are exposed to different environments, and thus develop personalized prior expectations about what specific environments should look like. In our research, we probe people's expectations with creative reporting tasks (like drawing) and then use this information to test perception and neural processing in artificially generated environments.
This research is funded by the ERC Starting Grant PEP ("Personalized priors: how individual differences in internal models explain idiosyncrasies in natural perception").
Dynamic top-down control of visual brain processes
The world around us is complex and characterized by constant change. To meet the challenge of efficient real-world vision, our brain dynamically monitors and directs sensory processing: attention is directed towards behaviorally relevant stimuli, information is integrated across space and time, and missing information is swiftly interpolated. All these functions require feedback projections in cortex, from cognitive to perceptual systems. We study how such feedback flows during naturalistic task and how rhythmic brain processes play a crucial role for simultaneously and efficiently transmitting feedforward and feedback information.
This research is funded by the DFG in the context of the SFB/TRR135 "Cardinal Mechanisms of Perception".
Real-world statistics and efficient natural vision
Our natural environments are not random collections of things: They are rather characterized through predictable distributions of information across space: For instance, the objects in your living room and the objects in my living room will be placed similarly based on their physical properties, their functions, and their relations with each other. In this line of research, we ask how the human brain has efficiently adapted to such recurring regularities in the world, and how the resulting visual system is optimally equipped for processing complex, but meaningfully structured environments.
This research was funded by the DFG from 2018 to 2021 in the project "Objects in Scenes".
Perceiving beauty in the world around us
Whether it's a scenic sunset, breathtaking architecture, or an attractive face - our lives are full of moments in which we perceive beauty in our surroundings. How is this feeling of beauty generated by our brains? And how does it arise from the computations performed in our visual system? In this line of research, we use neuroimaging techniques and computational models to predict which visual inputs humans find attractive and how such judgments vary with individuals' personal brain architecture.