I am interested in human cognition and perception, and particularly in working memory, selective attention, and perceptual integration over time. All in one: How do we perceive coherent objects and events, attend to them while ignoring others, and then remember them for a while when they have disappeared again? To study the brain in action, I often use electroencephalography (EEG), next to measuring task performance.
Eventually, our perceptual experiences become only what we remember of them, and unfortunately, our memory is not limitless. In fact, we can hold only a handful of things in working memory at any one time. I am interested in finding out how our brains actually support working memory, how we can optimize that rather limited memory store, and what might at times prevent us from doing so.
It is clear that attention plays an important role in perception, and in what we become aware of in our environment. Anyone who has seen a magician performing tricks will realize that despite what we may sometimes think, we cannot easily attend to multiple things at once, even if they are in full view. In the lab, I study how and when we select the right things to attend to, and when we do not, and end up distracted.
Why is watching a movie generally a smooth, flicker-free experience? Why do we not notice the rapid slideshow of still images that the movie really consists of? In essence, some things happen just a little too quickly for our brains to keep up. I study how our brains integrate rapidly changing sensory input into coherent events, to extract as much information as possible when the time to do so is limited.