Potential PhD Projects

Individual differences in object-based attention

Previous research suggests that visual attention can be allocated to locations in space (space-based attention) and to objects (object-based attention). Cueing effects associated with space-based attention tend to be large and are found consistently across experiments. Object-based attention effects, however, are small and found less consistently across experiments. In a recent paper (Pilz et al., 2012) we showed that object-based effects are subject to large individual differences. This project will investigate whether individual differences in object-based attention are due to individual differences in the ability to maintain attention on a specific object over time. 

This project combines different methodologies and approaches from visual attention and ageing research. The student will design psychophysical experiments and collect behavioural data from participants across the lifespan. In addition, the student will gain experience in a variety of different analysis methods.  

Motion perception in healthy ageing

Motion perception has been shown to deteriorate during healthy ageing (Pilz et al., 2010; Roudaia et al., 2010). Using electroencephalography (EEG) and psychophysical measures, this project will investigate the mechanisms underlying age-related changes in motion perception in more detail.

Short-term visual memories in ageing

When two similar visual stimuli are presented in rapid succession at the same location, they fuse. For example, a red and a green disk are perceived as one single yellow disk. In a recent paper (Pilz et al., 2013) we showed that similar mechanisms hold for form and apparent motion stimuli. Feature fusion can be modulated with light masks for about 400ms in that either the first or the second stimulus dominates the percept depending on mask onset. This project will investigate how such short-term visual memories for motion, form and colour change during healthy ageing.