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Frank Bremmer

Stefan Dowiasch


Tamara Watson



Michele Rucci

Martina Poletti

Simon Fraser University, Canada

Wolfgang Stürzlinger

Bernhard Riecke


Frank Steinicke
Lucie Kruse
Fariba Mostajeran


Patrizia Fattori

Annalisa Bosco

Michela Gamberini

Matteo Filippini

Claudio Galletti

Konstantinos Chatzidimitrakis

Royal Holloway, University of London

 Szonya Durant


Marcello Rosa

Maureen Hagen

University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Rob Lindeman

Professor Markus Lappe, Principal Investigator

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration: I started out as a physicist interested in complex systems, chaos and neural networks. Then I learned that the brain is the most complex system of all – and the most interesting. I became interested in visual perception since it makes up so much of our daily experience. Currently, I am most fascinated by the way our actions are both driven by and shape the perception of the visual world.

Favourite scientific discovery: I am interested in the most basic aspect of space perception, namely seeing where things are. You might think that our eyes and brain, like a camera, see things where they really are but this is actually not true. There are many illusions that make you see objects in wrong places. Some of these are related to eye movements, or maybe just eye movement preparation. Sometimes, it is as if you see things where you want to look; a bit like the proverbial lost key that a person searches for under a lantern at night because this is the only place where there is light. I have recently found that a change in perceived location of objects can be produced by modifying eye movements. The idea is simple: we detect eye movements of a subject and whenever he or she tries to look at an object we slightly shift the object away from its regular position. Doing this for a while makes the subject see the object away from its real position right from the start, and even without making an eye movement. This shows, on the one hand, that eye movements influence our perception of space and, on the other hand, that our perception of space is not like a camera but malleable though action.


Dr. Svenja Gremmler, Researcher

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration: The brain does an amazing job in providing a stable and colorful representation of the environment, developed from the information carried by the light reaching our eyes. The question how our visual system acts to maintain this stability of scene representation, which information carrying signals from different brain and body areas are used and in which way they are combined, spurs me to develop new experiments that help us to understand what we see and also what we sometimes do not see.

Favourite scientific discovery: We found that after motor learning due to manipulation of visual feedback for a certain time the perceived position of objects is shifted. This result tells us that the scene representation in our brain is not only constructed from the pure visual input from the eyes but that it also reflects motor knowledge.


Niklas Stein, PhD student

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration: Understanding how visual perception, eye movements, locomotion and behavior work is a great challenge in itself. It becomes even more complex when you look at all these things together and examine how they interact with each other. To face this difficult task again and again and to develop new methods for research in order to better understand perception and action piece by piece inspires me in my work.

Favourite scientific discovery: When we move through the environment, we have the feeling that we perceive it completely and as a whole. We are sure that we would notice changes in it immediately. With the help of virtual reality, we were able to show that this is not the case and that even large manipulations remain hidden from us if we apply them piece by piece and in compliance with the metrics of our perceptual system.


Frauke Heins, PhD student

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration:I have always been fascinated by how the human brain coordinates the many different processes that all contribute to our perception of the world. This interest has led me to study eye movements, which are an excellent tool for investigating the connection between our actions and our perception. 

Favourite scientific discovery: Saccadic eye movements constantly align our fovea with the objects of interest in our environment. Their accuracy is crucial for clear vision of our environment and, in particular, the objects that we want to act upon. Our brain recalibrates these saccadic eye movements such that they remain accurate under changing conditions and across the lifespan. This recalibration process, termed saccadic adaptation, is typically considered a low-level, automatic mechanism that relies on post-saccadic position error. My current research focuses on the influence of task demands and post-saccadic feedback on this learning process. The findings indicate that the post-saccadic position error is not the only source of information that can be used for adaptation. Instead, our current tasks can influence which source of information we consider relevant for error evaluation and we are able adjust our oculomotor behavior accordingly.


Krischan Koerfer, PhD student

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration: The brain is the source of every thought and every emotion. Understanding, healing and manipulating the brain is the most important science project in the 21st century and the potential impact on humankind and society are hardly imaginable. However, the brain is also the most complex single system and while we we begin to understand its structure and the function of small building blocks, science is far from revealing how the brain works on a macroscopic level. The visual system is the best researched subsystem and offers deep insights into how the brain processes complex information.

Favourite scientific discovery: It is amazing that the visual system is able to accurately perceive all kinds of motions at once. The retina receives a complex image of the environment with embedded motion signals caused by eye-movements, self-motion and object-motion alike. Based on this imperfect information the brain does compute a stable and rich environment and also reconstructs self- and object motion accordingly. This holds true for complex stimuli like biological or non-rigid motion and the human visual system still outperforms modern computer algorithms in that regard.


Jana Masselink, PhD student

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration: Realizing that all our experience and behavior and every function of our body, up to the slightest feeling and the slightest thought, rely on an interplay of neurons that fire in the brain is both simple and fascinating at once. Yet, it appears that the functionality of the brain that enables this capacity could not be more complex. A central capacity is that our visual perception locates objects in the world around us and our motor system produces highly accurate movements in oder to interact with these objects. Hereby, space perception and movement production form a continuous cycle — where we see something is where we move, and where we move is where we see something (new). Studying how the brain handles this continuous cycle with such high accuracy motivates my work.

Favourite scientific discovery: In 2002, the scientists Marc Sommer and Robert Wurtz discovered a pathway in the brain that internally tracks the size of our eye movements in space. Recently, we found out that this internal spatial perception of our movements can be altered when the brain assumes that its movement was inaccurate, e.g. when the eyes do not land where intended. Thus, while it seems straightforward that our spatial perception shapes our movements, we have to acknowledge that our movements also shape our perception of space.


Malte Scherff, PhD student

Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany

Inspiration: After finishing my degree in theoretical mathematics I wanted a change and work in an area in which results are at least a little bit applicable. Hence I took the opportunity and joined a vision lab to investigate the structure and processing of optic flow. I’m fascinated how much information is carried in these flow patterns and how some of the information can be extracted on a purely visual basis. But more than that, nearly every other topic and method I learned about since the beginning of my PhD project held something completely new for me due to my academic background.

Favourite scientific discovery: There are many ways to make people experience percepts that do not match the reality. While experiencing for example optic illusions is already fun by itself most of the time, it can also be an ingenious method to gain insight in how the brain processes the input it receives. It’s possible to induce the perception of one’s own movement on a purely visual basis even against better knowledge and we found that this percept can be altered by carefully manipulating the presented stimuli.


Professor Patrizia Fattori, Principal Investigator

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna

Inspiration: I have always been fascinated by the power of our brain. I admire its complexity and its perfection in physiological conditions. Starting with my PhD, as a Neuroscientist I started studying the visual cortex, and then ended up with studying the circuits linking vision to eye and hand control.

Favourite scientific discovery: We all know that a visual receptive field of a neuron is the part of the retina from which the neuron sees the world; its retinal window. Well, this is not completely true. In the posterior parietal cortex, in a part of the cortex at the interface between visual perception and arm action control, we found visual cells of a peculiar type. These cells, called “real-position” cells, have a visual receptive fields that is stable in space despite eye movements. These neurons seem to represent a kind of window on the retina that opens and closes taking into account where we are directing our eyes. This is unusual for visual neurons and contributes to our perception of space.

Dr. Annalisa Bosco, Researcher

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna

Inspiration: My research interests are addressed at studying how the brain controls the visuomotor responses. I study these topics at two different levels: a high-order level consisting in acquisition of neural data from cerebral cortex and an execution level consisting in acquisition of behavioural data. For me, the way we perceive and interact with the world always represented interesting field to discover and investigate from different perspectives.

Favourite scientific discovery: At neural level, I contributed at the study of functional properties of cortical area V6A located in the superior parietal lobule of the macaque. In particular, I focused my studies on the role of visual information in the encoding of reaching and grasping movements and which types of coordinate systems are used to plan and execute these movements.

At the behavioural level, I am interested on the interaction between perception and action to construct models that investigate the mechanisms underlying visuomotor integration in humans. Typically, a broad research area investigates how the brain uses information extracted from environment to select and guide the actions adaptively. The questions addressed by my current research consider that relation between perception and action is not one-sided, but action can influence perception.


Dr. Michela Gamberini, Researcher

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna

Inspiration: After the degree in Biological Sciences I was attracted by the research activity in life science and I started in Vision science during my PhD program. I started first with electophysiology of extrastriate visual areas of non-human primates to pass later on at the neuroanatomy of primate brain, coming back to my preferred analysis of histological materials with the microscope.

Favourite scientific discovery: My research activity concerns the study of the neurophysiology and the neuroanatomy of the primate visual system. In particular, I am interested in the recognition of cortical circuits and the anatomical organization of the primate cortex. I consider my relevant “scientific discovery“ the cytoarchitectonic subdivision of the parieto-occipital cortex of primate brain. I love observing histological tissue under the microscope and I have the patience and the perseverance to see even small differences in the cortical patterns. After outlining this anatomical tool, we described the cortical circuits that include the different areas that compose this large region of the brain, and we also anatomically subdivide in specific cortical areas the neurons that have been functionally studied.


Matteo Filippini, PhD student

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna

Inspiration: I have always been attracted from complex systems and how they work. Brain is the most complex machine existing on the earth. In the past few decades, impressive progresses in brain recording techniques and ever-increasing computer computational power are bringing us closer and closer to understand how this extraordinary machine works. I can’t miss to be here!

Favorite Science Discovery: Recently I collaborated to shed some light on the functional roles of V6A, an area of posterior parietal cortex. This area is part of a network that integrate incoming vision, tactile and proprioceptive information to elaborate plan of actions. This information could possibly be extracted, decoded and used to drive neural prosthesis in order to restore basic mobility of patients with impaired mobility. V6A elaborates reaching trajectories and hand shapes necessary to interact with objects in our peripersonal space, that’s what makes V6A unique and good source for neural prosthesis applications.

Dr. Szonya Durant

Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway

Inspiration: I love the idea of trying to understand how we can get from a single neuron changing its electrical activity over time to what we consciously experience.  We are obviously a long way away from this, but I think by approaching this question via parts of the visual experience and making use of a simulated world we can build on the vast amounts of knowledge already accumulated. My background is in mathematics and I am attracted to the approach of treating this as a computational question.  In turn starting by asking these very fundamental questions I enjoy applying my expertise to applications such as how to successfully guide visual attention in displays and interfaces.

Favourite scientific discovery: By looking at eye movements coupled with head movements in a 3D space I am discovering more and more that the established knowledge we have about how we explore visual space on a 2D screen or image does not necessarily translate in straightforward way to when we are looking all around us.  Objects in our peripheral vision do not seem to attract attention in the same way and it is less clear what we can define as a ‘fixation’ (when the eyes are staying still to process a visual object). I’ve seen this when people are walking forward in the real world, searching for computer generated stimuli in VR and also when looking for products in a virtual supermarket.


Professor Frank Bremmer, Principal Investigator

Marburg University

My current research focuses on (i) vision during eye-movements as well as on (i) multisensory representations of spatial and motion information in the primate brain. Given that we make eye-movements more often than our heart beats, I aim to understand if and how visual perception is modulated by various classes of eye-movements. In addition, I am concerned with the interplay of the visual, auditory and tactile senses for the perception of space and self-motion.


Dr. Dipl.-Phys. Stefan Dowiasch, Researcher

Department of Neurophysics, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany 

Inspiration: I’m interested in eye movements and their neural correlates during self-motion in natural environments with a focus on visual perceptual stability of our perception despite ongoing eye movements. I’m performing electrophysiological recordings in the macaque monkey, modeling and psychophysical experiments in humans. Furthermore, I’m working on different solutions for behavioral and cognitive training of animals in their respective home cages in order to simplify training and enrichment. Finally, I’m interested in identifying and utilizing eye movements as biomarkers in neuropsychiatric diseases. Therefore, I’m developing artificial neural networks for classifications based on big data.


Dr. Siegfried Wahl, Principal Investigator

ZEISS Vision Science Lab | Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH & Ophthalmic Research Institute, University Tuebingen

Inspiration: Physicist specialized in the field of neurobiology, biophysics and vision science with strong background in developmental biology and semiconductor physics. Broad application knowledge in biomedical disciplines, especially in intraoperative solutions and medical diagnosis. Working in the field of vision science using psychophysical methodologies focusing on an understanding of the visual system to generate new optometric and ophthalmic solutions.

Favorite scientific discovery: The complex interaction of light, the eye, the lens and eyeglasses is far from being fully deciphered. When the processing of the image on the retina in the brain is better understood, then I hypothesize a significant advance in the treatment of poor vision. The goal of my research is to gain an understanding of the development of vision and of the processing of the image in the brain in many different and dynamic situations and, on this basis, to develop new ways of providing natural, optimized vision to each individual. Another item on my agenda is to research into pathological changes to perception in order to enable their diagnosis and treatment by using suitable methods at an early stage. For these patients we aim to personalized solutions for enhanced vision.


Yannick Sauer, PhD student

ZEISS Vision Science Lab, Institute for Ophthalmic Research, University Tübingen

Inspiration: Improving impaired vision can substantially increase quality of life. As a physicist, I’m fascinated by how far the design of modern optics has already progressed in compensating the eye’s imaging errors. Yet, considering that our perception strongly depends on processing of the visual system, many aspects of vision influenced by optics are still unknown and I see a high potential for research to improve quality of vision by studying the interplay between individual behavior, visual processing and optical instruments

Favorite scientific discovery: Some ophthalmic spectacle lenses distort the vision of the wearer, and many subjective reports exist of unnatural and discomforting perception during dynamic behavior caused by the lenses. However, no objective measure exists yet for this effect, making it hard to optimize lens design for reduced discomfort. In a recent study, we were able to measure the influence of distortion on self-motion perception and we even were able to predict an estimation for the misperception from the lens data. This discovery is a first step for improving optics by incorporating knowledge about complex visual processing.


Pablo Sanz Diez, PhD student

ZEISS Vision Science Lab | Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH

Inspiration: Nature, the visual sciences, and their evolution have always fascinated me. Everything seems to work perfectly in harmony. The variety and complexity that can be found in the invertebrate visual system has always been amazing to me. Polarized light detection as a navigational mechanism, ocular regeneration capabilities, complex optical systems to stabilize the image during flight… it is amazing what nature offers us! Being aware of the existence of these visual capabilities led me to want to deeply explore how our visual system works. Specifically, the adaptive processes that allow us to operate in a dynamic visual environment.

Favourite Scientific Discovery: We have recently provided new insights into the interaction between action and perception processes. Particularly, we have investigated how size perception and saccade amplitude are affected by grasping movements and perturbations in object size. Our findings seem to indicate the presence of a learning mechanism which transfers information from motor to perceptual system.


Dr. Tamara Watson, Principal Investigator

Western Sydney University, Australia

Inspiration: I’m fascinated by the brain and I’m interested in understanding how it works. Up to a quarter of the human brain is devoted to visual perception so its a great place to start.

Favourite scientific discovery: It has become almost a textbook standard to say that the brain is functionally blind during an eye movement. I found that the visual brain continues to process information around the time of a saccadic eye movement even though we don’t see the stimuli in question. I’m currently asking ‘what is it the brain really sees during an eye movement?’.


Dr. Maureen Hagen

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Physiology,
Monash University, Australia

Inspiration: No area of the brain works in isolation. Areas of the brain work in concert with one another, forming functional networks defined by the connections between them. Cognition depends on coherent, inter-area communication across brain networks. My research interests lie in trying to understand how the brain is able to process the enormous amount of sensory information it receives and process it to guide behaviour. I am particularly interested in the strategies the brain uses - anatomical, physiological, and computational - to keep track of different types of information.



Favorite discovery: Everyday activities like reaching for a cup of coffee requires precise communication between brain areas responsible for controlling eye movements and brain areas controlling our arm movements. Psychologists have long noted that when executing a reach movement that requires careful accuracy, our gaze appears to be anchored to our target around the time of reach completion. This is likely because our visual acuity is greatest where our eyes are looking, which in turn improves reach accuracy. By simultaneously recording brain activity from eye movement and arm movement areas, I was able to show that the timing of activity in the reach area correlates with suppression of activity in the eye movement area around the time of reach completion, suggesting an inhibitory mechanism by which brain areas communicate to orchestrate coordinated behaviour.

Professor Rob Lindeman, Associated Partner

Human Interface Technology Lab (HIT Lab NZ), University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Inspiration: Reading books by William Gibson (e.g., Neuromancer) and Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash) gave me my initial inspiration. I started out working at the intersection of computer graphics and human-computer interaction, leading naturally to a focus on virtual reality (VR). I quickly learned of the power of adding haptic cues to improve the accuracy of users when interacting with objects in VR, and the power of sound to direct user attention. All of this formed my approach around Holistic VR: using all of the human senses in concert to create effective and compelling experiences. After engineering several multi-sensory systems, I realised it might be better to pull back, and instead of trying to achieve perfect sensory stimuli (which is impossible), it would be better to just show the user the essence of the experience, and let them fill in the rest with their imagination. This drastically changed my thinking, and led a less-is-more approach: Provide some stimulation to all the senses, but don’t aim for a perfect simulation.

Favourite scientific discovery: In the VR field, the notion of redirection has been the most inspirational and far-reaching breakthrough in recent memory! I think the ability to fool the brain by distorting movements just below the level of perceptibility, thereby enlarging and enhancing the user experience has produced a shift in our field. Walking, reaching, touching, jumping, smelling and even eating in VR have all benefitted from redirection approaches.


Professor Dr. Frank Steinicke

Human-Computer Interaction, Department of Informatics, Universität Hamburg, Germany 

Inspiration: As a child, I was fascinated by 3D movies, interactive games, and motion simulators. During my study of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, I was intrigued by the challenge improve the interface between human users and 3D interactive graphics and quickly realised that virtual reality and spatial user interaction is my area of research interest. I quickly learned that knowledge and expertise in perceptual and cognitive psychology is essential to understand limitations of todays human-computer interaction and build better interfaces.

Favourite scientific discovery: In VR, we performed a series of experiments in the area of redirected walking. The idea is to trick users in believing that they actually walk straight, whereas they are guided on a different path in the real world. Here, we conducted experiments to quantify how much we can actually trick users and have shown that is already possible to guide them on a circle with a radius of less than 20 meters.

Lucie Kruse

Human-Computer Interaction, Department of Informatics, Universität Hamburg, Germany 

Inspiration: I always wanted to use technology to do something useful. When I realized that you can combine knowledge from psychology and computer science to create immersive applications, for example to motivate people to move more, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

Favourite Scientific Discovery: A very hard question. Probably the realization that what we visually perceive has such a large impact on our perception - this ranges from the simple feeling of presence in a different environment to feeling like you are really flying, if this is what you see in virtual reality. 

Dr. Fariba Mostajeran

Human-Computer Interaction, Department of Informatics, Universität Hamburg, Germany 

Inspiration: The first time I put on a virtual reality head-mounted display, I saw a virtual landscape, over which I could virtually fly. This experience immediately gave me the illusion of being physically present in that environment and the sense of actually flying over that landscape. There, I was totally inspired by the power of this new medium and its great potential for psychological applications.


Favourite scientific discovery: The depiction of virtual nature such as a virtual forest or natural artifacts such as virtual plants in immersive virtual reality environments can lead to higher cognitive performance and psychological well-being for users.