Chris Olivers

  • Position
  • Professor in Visual Cognition
  • Institute
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

My research focuses on visual perception, attention, and multisensory processing, as well as their interactions with working memory, long term memory and cognitive control mechanisms. I use a variety of experimental paradigms and measures, from visual search to rapid serial presentation, and from eye movements to EEG. One of the most important features of human vision is that it is selective. It flexibly samples the environment on the basis of what is relevant to our current tasks, such as driving, finding a product in the supermarket, or collecting a child from school. This means that the brain maintains some representation of what we are currently looking for, be it a traffic sign, a coffee brand, or a kid’s face. This “picture in your head”, or “template” as it is often referred to, remains a mystery. Current models of visual exploration assume it to be there, but without making explicit what its properties and mechanisms are. I want t understand this central concept of perceptual theory, by systematically investigating what distinguishes the template from other types of memory, how many templates can be active at a time, how we set up, change, and abandon the template with changing task demands, and how training changes the nature, dynamics and capacity of the template.