Maria Olkkonen

Maria Olkkonen, PhD

Lecturer (Durham University)
Academy Research Fellow (University of Helsinki)
Department of Psychology
Durham University
South Road
Durham, UK

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© Toni Saarela 

Visual perception is effortless and seemingly automatic, and yet it's a complicated information processing task for the brain. I was introduced to visual psychophysics during my studies at the University of Helsinki, where I was impressed by the elegance of the method, and the relative simplicity of the research questions in vision science compared to most of psychology. Indeed, studying vision is an excellent way to understand how the brain works, as the basic physiology and anatomy underlying vision are better-characterized than for other information processing tasks. Still, it is unclear how the brain manages to construct a coherent representation of the visual world when the sensory input is ever-varying. In my research I concentrate on the question of whether and how prior knowledge about the world and expectations derived from this knowledge are employed while constructing visual representations. More specifically, I ask how stable color and object representations are formed in varying contexts, by using tools from psychophysics, computational modeling, and fMRI. I am currently starting my own lab jointly at Durham University and at the University of Helsinki, for which I received funding from the Academy of Finland. You can find more information on my general research interests page and on my CV (pdf).