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VENI project

I spy with my little eye...
How the brain generates visual experiences.

The Veni grant is part of the Talent Program of the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and provides excellent researchers the opportunity to further elaborate their ideas.

Your eyes capture light like a camera, but to see you need your brain. How does your brain integrate visual with subjective information? Neural signals travelling in the opposite, ‘feedback’, direction through a hierarchy of brain regions may play a key role. This project will determine how feedback signals contribute to visual experiences of objects. While human participants view images of real and illusory objects, I will measure feedback signals using advanced neuroimaging techniques and manipulate them with pharmacology. This project will help solve the enigma around feedback signals and, thereby, will help us understand how brain regions work together.

From left to right:
- ”Water and sky,” artist M.C. Escher playing with object-background assignment.
- Faces or vase? By E.J. Rubin. Ambiguous object-background assignment: subjective experience can change spontaneously.
- Illusory Kanizsa triangle, G. Kanizsa, appears whiter than its background.
- Texture-defined object, appears closer than its background.

Left: Subjective experiences of seen objects involve feedforward (blue) and feedback (red) processing.
Right: Simplified outline of feedforward and possible feedback analysis steps.

In the news:
Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
VU University Amsterdam (in Dutch)
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (in Dutch)