The role of past experiences and attention in conscious perception
What we see and recognize is not only influenced by sensory input from the eyes, but also strongly shaped by attention and past experiences. This is especially the case when information in our senses is ambiguous, incomplete, and discontinuous. In our daily lives, we direct attention to ambiguous information all the time, for instance when looking for a friend in a crowded street, and when spotting a bird in a tree. We are highly skilled in tasks like these because we perform many visual searches for the same types of shapes and objects every day.
One of the goals of my research is to understand how past experiences and attention shape what we consciously perceive. How does the electrical activity of neurons gives rise to perception of behaviourally relevant sensory information? This research goal is pursued by quantifying how hierarchically organized neural circuits control what is being perceived.
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