2022 Annual Business Meeting


We encourage you to join the VSS Board of Directors for the Annual Business Meeting. During this meeting, the VSS leadership will provide an overview of the Society, including the outlook and priorities for next year’s meeting.

The Business Meeting is an opportunity for VSS members to ask questions of the VSS Board of Directors and bring up issues of concern to the general membership.

You may send questions before the start of the Business Meeting to .

Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee (SPC) Applications

The Vision Sciences Society welcomes applications for three vacancies on the VSS Student-Postdoctoral Advisory Committee. Successful applicants will join the three continuing members of the current VSS Student-Postdoctoral Advisory Committee (SPC).

The mandate of the SPC is to share ideas and proposals about how VSS events, workshops, meeting structure and activities can best meet the needs of trainee members and early career researchers. The SPC participates in the design and operation of VSS events and workshops that are relevant to the needs and interests of early career researchers. Serving on the SPC, as well as facilitating or leading any resulting activities, are also useful professional experiences for engaged trainees.

In past years, SPC members contributed to VSS by designing and operating conference events directed to our trainees and early career researchers. They also provided valuable advice and perspectives to the VSS board about aspects of the conference and the organization that are relevant to these members. Members of the SPC meet both independently and with VSS board members. See https://www.visionsciences.org/2021-open-science-symposium/ for a description of an event led by SPC at V-VSS 2021

Membership is for a period of one year, beginning on the first day of the Annual Meeting, with the opportunity for appointment to a second year.

VSS wants to send its appreciation to the current board for their outstanding service in 2021/2022: Stacey Aston, Doug Addleman, Cristina Ceja, Sabrina Hansmann-Roth, Björn Jörges, and Takuma Morimoto (see https://www.visionsciences.org/spc/ ).

VSS welcomes and actively seeks applications from students and postdoctoral members whose research spans the range of areas represented in the organization, and who reflect the global diversity and aspirations of the VSS membership.

Application Procedure

Those interested in becoming members of the VSS Student-Postdoctoral Advisory Committee should send the following information in a single PDF file:

  1. A one-page personal statement. This statement should summarize your reasons for wanting to serve on the SPC, any prior experience, or any aspects of your background that you feel is relevant to serving on the SPC
  2. List of previous VSS conferences attended
  3. Statement of intention to attend the VSS conference in 2022 and 2023 as a student/postdoc VSS member, as well as a statement that the applicant expects to retain status as either a student or postdoc for the 12 months following the 2022 conference
  4. Names and contact information of two individuals who could provide letters of support for the nomination
  5. Current CV, including current affiliation and contact information.

Application materials should be emailed to by March 11, 2022.

Those who applied to the SPC last year are encouraged to resubmit this year if you are still a student or postdoctoral VSS member.

Nominations Accepted: February 16, 2022
Nominations Close: March 11, 2022
Recipients Announced: April 15, 2022

Meeting Attendance Survey

To all members of VSS,

Plans are well underway for VSS 2022! We need some input from you to make the meeting a success for all.

The link below will lead you to a very brief survey asking about your plans for attendance at VSS 2022. Even if you are uncertain, please let us know about your current plans.

Your responses will be most useful if sent by Wednesday, November 24.

Take Survey

Thanks to all!
The VSS Board of Directors

2021 Satellite Events

2021 Satellite Events

An introduction to TELLab – The Experiential Learning LABoratory, a web-based platform for educators

An introduction to TELLab 2.0 – A new-and-improved version of The Experiential Learning LABoratory, a webbased platform for educators

Canadian Vision Science Social

Measuring and Maximizing Eye Tracking Data Quality with EyeLinks

Mentoring Envisioned

New Tools for Conducting Eye Tracking Research

Performing Eye Tracking Studies in VR

phiVIS: Philosophy of Vision Science Workshop

Reunion: Visual Neuroscience From Spikes to Awareness

Run MATLAB/Psychtoolbox Experiments Online with
Pack & Go

Teaching Vision

Virtual VPixx Hardware with the LabMaestro Simulator

Visibility: A Gathering of LGBTQ+ Vision Scientists and

2021 Funding Workshops

US Funding Workshop

Saturday, May 22, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT

Moderator: Ruth Rosenholtz
Discussants: Joeanna Arthur, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Todd Horowitz, National Cancer Institute; Michael Hout, National Science Foundation; and Cheri Wiggs, National Eye Institute
You have a great research idea, but you need money to make it happen. You need to write a grant. This workshop will address various funding mechanisms for vision research. Our panelists will discuss their organization’s interests and priorities, and give insight into the inner workings of their extramural research programs. There will be time for your questions.

Joeanna Arthur

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Joeanna Arthur, Ph.D., is a Supervisory Research & Development Scientist and Senior Staff Scientist in the Predictive Analytics Research Group at the National-Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) where she leads a transdisciplinary team of scientists advancing Geospatial Science and enhancing analytic tradecraft. She also serves as the agency’s Human Research Protection Official. Prior government assignments include Chief of Research(FBI/HIG), Lead Behavioral Scientist/Psychologist (DIA), Program Manager and Operational Test & Evaluation Lead (NGA). Her past and current research areas span the fields of cognitive neuroscience, operational psychology, human-system integration, human performance optimization, intelligence interviewing, research ethics, and applied social science. She received her doctorate degree in Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience from the George Washington University (Washington, DC) and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in the Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD). Dr. Arthur is one of the Intelligence Community’s first recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE 2012, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy).

Todd Horowitz

National Cancer Institute

Todd Horowitz, Ph.D., is a Program Director in the Behavioral Research Program’s (BRP) Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch (BBPSB), located in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Horowitz earned his doctorate in Cognitive Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1995. Prior to joining NCI, he was Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the Visual Attention Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed research papers in vision science and cognitive psychology. His research interests include attention, perception, medical image interpretation, cancer-related cognitive impairments, sleep, and circadian rhythms.

Michael Hout

National Science Foundation

Michael Hout, Ph.D., is a Program Director for Perception, Action, and Cognition in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences directorate (in the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences division) of the National Science Foundation. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh and his masters and doctoral degrees from Arizona State University. He is a rotating Program Director on professional leave from New Mexico State University where he runs a lab in the Psychology Department and co-directs an interdisciplinary virtual and augmented reality lab as well. Prior to joining the NSF he was a conference organizer for the Object Perception, Attention, and Memory meeting and was an Associate Editor at Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. His research focuses primarily on visual cognition (including visual search, attention, and eye movements), spanning both basic theoretical research and applied scenarios such as professional medical/security screening, and search and rescue.

Cheri Wiggs

National Eye Institute

Cheri Wiggs, Ph.D., serves as a Program Director at the National Eye Institute (of the National Institutes of Health). She oversees extramural funding through three programs — Perception & Psychophysics, Myopia & Refractive Errors, and Low Vision & Blindness Rehabilitation. She received her PhD from Georgetown University in 1991 and came to the NIH as a researcher in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition. She made her jump to the administrative side of science in 1998 as a Scientific Review Officer. She currently represents the NEI on several trans-NIH coordinating committees (including BRAIN, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Medical Rehabilitation Research) and was appointed to the NEI Director’s Audacious Goals Initiative Working Group.

Ruth Rosenholtz


Ruth Rosenholtz is a Principal Research Scientist in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She studies a wide range of visual phenomena, as well as applied vision, using a mix of behavioral methods and computational modeling. Her main research topics include attention and visual search; perceptual organization; and peripheral vision. She is a fellow of the APS, an associate editor for the Journal Vision, and a VSS board member. Her funding sources have included NSF, NIH, Toyota, and Ford.

Peer Review of NIH NRSA Fellowship Proposals

Tuesday, May 25, 5:00 – 5:30 pm EDT

Speaker: Cibu Thomas

The objective of this session is to provide the principal investigators and their sponsors an overview about the process by which peer review of predoctoral and postdoctoral NRSA proposals is implemented by the NIH Center for Scientific

Cibu Thomas

National Institutes of Health

Dr. Cibu Thomas earned his M.S. in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas, and his Ph.D. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. After postdoctoral training at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, he served as a Research Fellow
at the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine. He then served as a Staff Scientist for the Section on Learning and Plasticity in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition at the National Institute of Mental Health, where his research focused on elucidating the principles governing brain plasticity and its relation to behavior using multimodal MRI and psychophysics. He is currently the scientific review officer for the NIH NRSA Fellowships study section F02B, which manages the scientific review of applications proposing training that is focused on understanding normal sensory (both auditory and visual), motor or sensorimotor function as well as disorders of cognitive, sensory, perceptual and motor development.

What’s new in visual development?

Organizers: Oliver Braddick1, Janette Atkinson2; 1University of Oxford, 2University College London
Presenters: Oliver Braddick, Rebecca Saxe, T. Rowan Candy, Dennis M Levi, Janette Atkinson, Tessa Dekker

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In the last two decades, the science of human development has moved beyond defining how and when basic visual functions emerge during infancy and childhood, through both technical and conceptual advances. First, technical progress in MRI and near infrared spectroscopy and dedicated efforts by researchers have made it possible to image and localize activity in the visual brain, as early as the first months of life. These will be exemplified in the symposium by Rebecca Saxe’s presentation on the development of area specialization within the ventral visual stream in early infancy, and in Tessa Dekker’s research on childhood development of decision making for efficient visual cue combination, combining neuroimaging with novel behavioural measures .Secondly, Rowan Candy’s presentation will show how measurements of infants’ eye movements and refractive state using Purkinje image eye tracking and photorefraction have been refined to new levels of accuracy, providing novel insights into oculomotor development and how it interacts with binocular visual experience from the first weeks of life. This work offers the possibility of understanding the early development of strabismus where accommodation-vergence synergy develops atypically. The resulting condition of amblyopia reflects early plasticity, but the work presented by Dennis Levi shows that this condition remains treatable into adulthood, using novel therapies designed to re-establish binocular interactions rather than simply strengthen the cortical input from the amblyopic eye, with new implications for extended critical periods . Third, these approaches, alongside new behavioural methods , have highlighted the interlocking relationships between basic visual functions and visuocognitive processes such as decision-making and attention. Janette Atkinson’s presentation will define the key role of attention in visual development, and how different components of attention, depending on distinct brain networks, can be separated in young children and those with neurodevelopmental disorders. Different disorders (e.g. perinatal brain damage, Down and Williams syndromes) show distinctive profiles of attentional impairment. Imaging studies of cortical area and fibre tract development suggest that specific parietal and frontal networks are associated with individual differences in children’s visual decision-making and may also develop atypically across many developmental disorders. Tessa Dekker’s presentation will show how decision processes operating on visual information are as critical in development, including visuomotor development, as the development of basic sensitivity to visual feature properties. Detailed modelling of visual and visuomotor behaviour and localised brain responses indicate a prolonged development into middle & late childhood of the integrative processes required for efficient visual decisions. These talks illustrate some highlights in a much wider field of new insights into both typical and atypical visual development. Oliver Braddick’s presentation will outline the scope of this broader field, including pointers to work on automated visual assessment, infant eye-tracking with head-mounted cameras in the natural visual environment, isolating specific discriminations through frequency-tagging EEG, MRI analyses of developing brain connectivity, and the developmental impact of early and late visual deprivation. This whole range of work has greatly extended our understanding of the developing visual brain and its intimate links throughout neurocognitive systems, and allows us to identifiy the challenges ahead.


New techniques, new questions in visual development

Oliver Braddick1; 1University of Oxford

In the last two decades, the range of research on visual development has been expanded by new methodologies, some represented in this symposium, which provide richer data and more direct insights into the visual brain mechanisms underlying development. This talk provides a brief overview of other advances which have started to answer some key questions in visual development: (i) application of eye tracking to automated visual assessment; (ii) head-mounted eye tracking yielding data on how infants sample their natural visual environment; (iii) frequency-tagging to refine the specificity of information yielded by EEG; (iv) MRI approaches to the connectivity and structure of the developing visual brain, including individual differences in development; (v) broader studies of the impact of visual deprivation on human visual development. As well as applying new methods, developmental research, in common with vision research more generally, has also extended its scope into the interfaces of vision with attention, action systems, decision processes, and other aspects of cognition. All these advances open the prospects of a wider and deeper understanding of the role of vision in the development of brain systems in infancy and childhood. However, there remain challenges in understanding the origins of individual differences across children in visuospatial, visuomotor, and visuosocial cognition.

The origins of specificity in ventral-stream cortical areas

Rebecca Saxe1, Heather Kosakowski1, Lindsey Powell1, Michael Cohen1; 1Massachussetts Institute of Technology

In human adults, visual responses to object categories are organized into large scale maps; and within these maps are regions responding highly-selectively to behaviourally significant stimulus categories, such as faces, bodies, and scenes. Here we used fMRI in awake infants to directly measure the early development of these visual responses. Our first study (n=9) found that extrastriate cortex of 4–6-month-old infants contains regions that respond preferentially to faces, scenes, and objects with a spatial organization similar to adults. However, the responses in these regions were not selective for a single category. In a second fMRI study (n=26, age 2-9 months) we replicated these results, again finding preferential responses to faces, scenes and objects (but not bodies) in extrastriate areas. Third, we again replicated spatially separable responses to faces and scenes, but not bodies, within lateral occipito-temporal cortex, using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). These results demonstrate that the large-scale organization of category preferences in visual cortex is present within a few months after birth, but is subsequently refined through development.

Infants’ control of their visual experience through vergence and accommodation

T. Rowan Candy1; 1University of Indiana

While a large literature has demonstrated the impact of abnormal visual experience on postnatal development of the visual system, the role of the ocular motor visual system in defining retinal visual experience during infancy and early childhood has been less well understood. Advances in instrumentation have made it possible for us to track simultaneously infants’ vergence eye movements and accommodation, showing that these responses are coupled, associated with sensitivity to binocular disparity, and can be dynamically adjusted, from the first weeks of life. This control, along with that of conjugate eye movements, enables infants to control their own visual experience in their dynamic three-dimensional world. In turn, visual experience enables most children to calibrate these coupled responses effectively, while others develop misalignment of their eyes and strabismus. A key question for future studies is to explore the source of this individual failure, whether it lies in disrupted fusional vergence potential or in the ability to undergo adaptation. This talk will also briefly consider the following questions: How does the improving spatial resolution of the infant’s visual system affect the iterative development of motor and sensory visual systems? How can human visual development inform machine learning and robotics? How does development of the first stages of visual processing impact higher-order extrastriate function, and what is the influence of top-down processes?

Rethinking amblyopia and its therapies

Dennis M Levi1; 1University of California, Berkeley

Recent work has transformed our ideas about effective therapies for amblyopia. Since the 1700’s, the clinical treatment for amblyopia has consisted of patching or penalizing the strong eye, to force the “lazy” amblyopic eye, to work. This treatment has generally been limited to infants and young children during the “critical” or sensitive period of development. Over the last 20 years, we have learned much about the nature and neural mechanisms underlying the loss of spatial and binocular vision in amblyopia, and that a degree of neural plasticity persists well beyond the sensitive period. Importantly, the last decade has seen a resurgence of research into new approaches to the treatment of amblyopia both in children and adults, which emphasise that monocular therapies may not be the most effective for the fundamentally binocular disorder that is amblyopia. These approaches include perceptual learning, video game play and binocular methods aimed at reducing inhibition of the amblyopic eye by the strong fellow eye, and enhancing binocular fusion and stereopsis. This talk will highlight both the successes of these approaches in labs around the world, and their dismal failures in clinical trials. Reconciling these results raises important new questions that may help to focus future directions.

Typical and atypical brain development for components of visual attention

Janette Atkinson1; 1University College London

The development of attention mechanisms plays a key role in how visual information is used and in determining how the visual environment shapes visual development. However, visual attention is not a unitary process but involves multiple components of selective attention, sustained attention, and executive function(s). The Early Childhood Attention Battery (ECAB) allows these components to be separated in preschool children or children with equivalent mental age and defines individual and group differences in their ‘attention profile’ across these components. For example, we find that sustained visual attention is impaired in children with perinatal brain injury and/or very premature birth, but that this ability is relatively preserved in children with Williams (WS) and Down Syndrome (DS). Children with DS or WS have difficulties inhibiting prepotent responses in executive function tasks, although in WS these difficulties are much greater in the visuospatial than the vebal domain. Spatial attention processes are particularly associated with structures in the dorsal stream and our past work has highlighted attention as an element of the ‘dorsal stream vulnerability’ characterising many developmental disorders. We will discuss these patterns of deficit across syndromes in relation to the dorsal and ventral attention networks and salience network defined by data from current connectivity studies in children and adults, including our findings on the tracts associated with children’s performance on visual decisions. Individual variations in the way these networks interact may determine the way top-down goals and bottom-up sensory stimulation are integrated in the control of visual behaviour in development.

Model-based MRI and psychophysics reveal crucial role of decision-making in visual development in childhood.

Tessa Dekker1, Marko Nardini2, Peter Jones1; 1University College London, 2University of Durham

Vision undergoes major development during infancy and childhood, demonstrated in improvements in both detection and recognition tasks. Classically, developmental vision research has focussed on sensitivity improvements in early visual channels. However, in recent years, decision-theoretic approaches have formalised how changes in visual performance could also result from more efficient use of available information, for example by optimising decision rules, cost functions, and priors. Using these quantitative frameworks, we are beginning to understand how these factors contribute to childhood vision. For example, improved depth perception in late childhood reflects a shift from processing depth cues independently to combining them in visual cortex, as demonstrated by the emergence of fMRI evidence for fused depth-cue representations within neural detectors in area V3B. Similarly, development of visual motion-, location-, and object perception, in part reflects more efficient combining of stimulus features (e.g., averaging dots across displays) besides greater sensitivity to these features’ properties (e.g., single dot motion). Thus, rather than greater sensitivity to basic visual information, substantial improvements in visual discrimination and detection may reflect better inferential capacities. This also applies to visually-guided movement tasks that emulate real-life action under risk: while adults can rapidly identify visuomotor strategies that minimise risk and uncertainty in new situations with complex cost factors, children up to age 10 years do not. Together, these studies show that improved decision-making plays a major role in visual development in childhood, and that modelling this role is needed to gain computational-level insight in the driving factors of human visual plasticity.

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Wait for it: 20 years of temporal orienting

Organizers: Nir Shalev1,2,3, Anna Christina (Kia) Nobre1,2,3; 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, 2Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Oxford, 3Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, University of Oxford
Presenters: Jennifer Coull, Rachel Denison, Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg, Nir Shalev, Assaf Breska, Sander Los

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The study of temporal preparation in guiding behaviour adaptively and proactively has long roots, traceable at least as far back as Wundt (1887). Additional forays into exploring the temporal dimension of anticipatory attention resurfaced during the early years of cognitive psychology. But, the field of selective temporal attention has undoubtedly blossomed in the last twenty years. In 1998, Coull and Nobre introduced a temporal analogue of the visual spatial orienting paradigm (Posner, 1980), demonstrating sizeable and reproducible effects of temporal orienting, as well as ushering in studies to study its neural systems and mechanisms. The studies built on seminal psychological demonstrations of auditory perceptual facilitation by temporal rhythms (Jones, 1976). Over the ensuing years, investigating ‘when we attend’ has become increasingly mainstay. Today we recognise that our psychological and neural systems extract temporal information from recurring temporal rhythms, associations, probabilities, and sequences to enhance perception in the various modalities as well as across them. Sophisticated experimental designs have been developed, and various approaches have been applied to investigate the principles of selective temporal attention. Are there dedicated systems for anticipating events in time leading to a common set of modulatory functions? Or, are mechanisms for temporal orienting embedded within task-specific systems and dependent on the nature of the available temporal regularities (e.g., rhythms or associations). In the following symposium, we illustrate contemporary research on selective temporal attention by bringing together researchers from across the globe and using complementary approaches. Across the presentations, researchers explore the roles of temporal rhythms, associations, probabilities, and sequences using psychophysics, eye movements, neural measurements, neuropsychology, developmental psychology, and theoretical models. In a brief introduction, Coull and Nobre will comment on the context of their initial temporal orienting studies and on the major strands and developments in the field. The first research presentation by Rachel Denison (with Marisa Carrasco) will introduce behavioural and neurophysiological studies demonstrating the selective nature of temporal attention and its relative costs and benefits to performance. The second presentation by Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg will show how anticipatory temporal attention influences oculomotor behaviour, with converging evidence from saccades, micro-saccades, and eye-blinks. The third presentation by Nir Shalev (with Sage Boettcher) will show how selective temporal attention generalises to dynamic and extended visual search contexts, picking up on learned conditional probabilities to guide perception and eye movement in adults and in children. The fourth presentation by Assaf Breska will provide evidence for a double dissociation between temporal attention based on temporal rhythms vs. associations by comparing performance of individuals with lesions in the cerebellum vs. basal ganglia. The final presentation by Sander Los will introduce a theoretical and computational model that proposes to account to various effects of temporal orienting across multiple time spans – from between successive trials to across contexts. A panel discussion will follow, to consider present and forthcoming research challenges and opportunities. In addition to considering current issues in selective temporal attention, our aim is to lure our static colleagues into the temporal dimension.


20 years of temporal orienting: an introduction

Jennifer Coull1,2, Anna Christina Nobre3,4,5; 1Aix-Marseille Universite, France, 2French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), 3Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, 4Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Oxford, 5Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, University of Oxford

In a brief introduction to the symposium, we will spell out the main questions and issues framing cognitive neuroscience studies of attention when we conducted our first temporal orienting combining behavioural methods with PET, fMRI, and ERPS. We will reflect on the strands of research at the time which helped guide our thinking and interpretation of results; and then consider the rich, varied, and many ways in which the temporal attention field has evolved into its exciting, dynamic, and multifaceted guise.

The dynamics of temporal attention

Rachel Denison1, Marisa Carrasco1; 1Department of Psychology, New York University

Selection is the hallmark of attention: processing improves for attended items but is relatively impaired for unattended items. It is well known that visual spatial attention changes sensory signals and perception in this selective fashion. In the research we will present, we asked whether and how attentional selection happens across time. Specifically, we investigated voluntary temporal attention, the goal-driven prioritization of visual information at specific points in time. First, our experiments revealed that voluntary temporal attention is selective, resulting in perceptual tradeoffs across time. Perceptual sensitivity increased at attended times and decreased at unattended times, relative to a neutral condition in which observers were instructed to sustain attention. Temporal attention changed the precision of orientation estimates, as opposed to an all-or-none process, and it was similarly effective at different visual field locations (fovea, horizontal meridian, vertical meridian). Second, we measured microsaccades and found that directing voluntary temporal attention increases the stability of the eyes in anticipation of a brief, attended stimulus, improving perception. Attention affected microsaccade dynamics even for perfectly predictable stimuli. Precisely timed gaze stabilization can therefore be an overt correlate of the allocation of temporal attention. Third, we developed a computational model of dynamic attention, which incorporates normalization and dynamic gain control, and accounts for the time-course of perceptual tradeoffs. Altogether, this research shows how voluntary temporal attention increases perceptual sensitivity at behaviorally relevant times, and helps manage inherent limits in visual processing across short time intervals. This research advances our understanding of attention as a dynamic process.

Oculomotor inhibition as a correlate of temporal orienting

Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg1,2, Noam Tal1, Dekel Abeles1; 1School of Psychological Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, 2Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel-Aviv University

Temporal orienting in humans is typically assessed by measuring classical behavioral measurements, such as reaction times (RTs) and accuracy-rates, and by examining electrophysiological responses. But these methods have some disadvantages: RTs and accuracy-rates provide only retrospective estimates of temporal orientation, and electrophysiological markers are often difficult to interpret. Fixational eye movements, such as microsaccades, occur continuously and involuntarily even when observers attempt to suppress them by holding steady fixation. These continuous eye movements can provide reliable and interpretable information on fluctuations of cognitive states across time, including those that are related to temporal orienting. In a series of studies, we show that temporal orienting is associated with the inhibition of oculomotor behaviors, including saccades, microsaccades and eye-blinks. First, we show that eye movements are inhibited prior to predictable visual targets. This effect was found for targets that were anticipated either because they were embedded in a rhythmic stream of stimulation or because they were preceded by an informative temporal cue. Second, we show that this effect is not specific to the visual modality but is present also for temporal orienting in the auditory modality. Last, we show that the oculomotor inhibition effect of temporal orienting is related to the construction of expectations and not to the estimation of interval duration, and also that it reflects a local trial-by-trial anticipation rather than a global arousal state. We conclude that pre-target inhibition of oculomotor behaviors is a reliable correlate of temporal orienting processes of various types and modalities.

Spatial-temporal predictions in a dynamic visual search

Nir Shalev1,2,3, Sage Boettcher1,2,3, Anna Christina Nobre1,2,3; 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, 2Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Oxford, 3Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, University of Oxford

Our environment contains many regularities that allow the anticipation of upcoming events. Waiting for a traffic light to change, an elevator to arrive, or using a toaster: all contain temporal ‘rules’ that can be learned and used to improve performance. We investigated the guidance of spatial attention based on spatial-temporal associations using a dynamic variation of a visual search task. On each trial, individuals searched for eight targets among distractors, all fading in and out of the display at different locations and times. The screen was split into four distinct quadrants. Crucially, we rendered four targets predictable by presenting them repeatedly in the same quadrants and times throughout the task. The other four targets were randomly distributed in their locations and onsets. At the first part of our talk, we will show that participants are faster and more accurate in detecting predictable targets. We identify this benefit when testing both young adults (age 18-30), and in a cohort of young children (age 5-6). At the second part of the talk, we will present a further inquiry about the source of the behavioural benefit, contrasting sequential-priming vs. memory guidance. We do so by introducing two more task variations: one in which the onsets and locations of all targets occasionally repeated in successive trials; and one in which the trial pattern was occasionally violated. The results suggest that both factors, i.e., priming and memory, provide a useful source for guiding attention.

Distinct mechanisms of rhythm- and interval-based attention shifting in time

Assaf Breska1; 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, 2Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley

A fundamental principle of brain function is the use of temporal regularities to predict the timing of upcoming events and proactively allocate attention in time accordingly. Historically, predictions in rhythmic streams were explained by oscillatory entrainment models, whereas predictions formed based on associations between cues and isolated interval were explained by dedicated interval timing mechanisms. A fundamental question is whether predictions in these two contexts are indeed mediated by distinct mechanisms, or whether both rely on a single mechanism. I will present a series of studies that combined behavioral, electrophysiological, neuropsychological and computational approached to investigate the cognitive and neural architecture of rhythm- and interval-based predictions. I will first show that temporal predictions in both contexts similarly modulate behavior and anticipatory neural dynamics measured by EEG such as ramping activity, as well as phase-locking of delta-band activity, previously taken as signature of oscillatory entrainment. Second, I will show that cerebellar degeneration patients were impaired in forming temporal predictions based on isolated intervals but not based on rhythms, while Parkinson’s disease patients showed the reverse pattern. Finally, I will demonstrate that cerebellar degeneration patients show impaired temporal adjustment of ramping activity and delta-band phase-locking, as well as timed suppression of beta-band activity during interval-based prediction. Using computational modelling, I will identify the aspects of neural dynamics that prevail in rhythm-based prediction despite impaired interval-based prediction. To conclude, I will discuss implications for rhythmic entrainment and interval timing models, and the role of subcortical structures in temporal prediction and attention.

Is temporal orienting a voluntary and controlled process?

Sander Los1, Martijn Meeter1, Wouter Kruijne2; 1Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2University of Groningen

Temporal orienting involves the allocation of attentional resources to future points in time to facilitate the processing of an expected target stimulus. To examine temporal orienting, studies have varied the foreperiod between a warning stimulus and a target stimulus, with a cue specifying the duration of the foreperiod at the start of each trial with high validity (typically 80%). It has invariably been found that the validity of the cue has a substantial behavioral effect (typically expressed in reaction times) on short-foreperiod trials but not on long-foreperiod trials. The standard explanation of this asymmetry starts with the idea that, at the start of each trial, the participant voluntarily aligns the focus of attention with the moment specified by the cue. On short foreperiod trials, this policy leads to an effect of cue validity, reflecting differential temporal orienting. By contrast, on long-foreperiod trials, an initially incorrect early focus of attention (induced by an invalid cue) will be discovered during the ongoing foreperiod, allowing re-orienting toward a later point in time, thus preventing behavioral costs. In this presentation, we challenge this view. Starting from our recent multiple trace theory of temporal preparation (MTP), we developed an alternative explanation based on the formation of associations between the specific cues and foreperiods. We will show that MTP accounts naturally for the typical findings in temporal orienting without recourse to voluntary and controlled processes. We will discuss initial data that serve to distinguish between the standard view and the view derived from MTP.

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What has the past 20 years of neuroimaging taught us about human vision and where do we go from here?

Organizers: Susan Wardle1, Chris Baker1; 1National Institutes of Health
Presenters: Aina Puce, Frank Tong, Janneke Jehee, Justin Gardner, Marieke Mur

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Over the past 20 years, neuroimaging methods have become increasingly popular for studying the neural mechanisms of vision in the human brain. To celebrate 20 years of VSS this symposium will focus on the contribution that brain imaging techniques have made to our field of vision science. In the year 2000, we knew about retinotopy and category-selectivity, but neuroimaging was still evolving. Now in 2020, the field is taking an increasingly computational approach to applying neuroimaging data to understanding questions about vision. The aim of this symposium is to provide both a historical context and a forward-focus for the role of neuroimaging in vision science. Our speakers are a diverse mix of pioneering researchers in the field who applied neuroimaging in the early days of the technique, and those who have more recently continued to push the field forward by creative application of imaging techniques. We have also selected speakers who use a range of different methodological approaches to investigate both low-level and high-level vision, including computational and modeling techniques, multivariate pattern analysis and representational similarity analysis, and methods that aim to link brain to behavior. The session will begin with a short 5-10 min Introductory talk by Susan Wardle to provide context for the symposium. Talks by the five selected speakers will be 20 minutes each; with 1-2 mins available for clarification questions after each talk. The session will end with a longer 10-15 min general discussion period. In the first talk, Aina Puce will consider the contribution made by multiple neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI and M/EEG towards understanding the social neuroscience of face perception, and how technological advances are continuing to shape the field. In the second talk, Frank Tong will discuss progress made in understanding top-down feedback in the visual system using neuroimaging, predictive coding models, and deep learning networks. In the third talk, Janneke Jehee will argue that a crucial next step in visual neuroimaging is to connect cortical activity to behavior, using perceptual decision-making as an illustrative example. In the fourth talk, Justin Gardner will discuss progress made in using neuroimaging to link cortical activity to human visual perception, with a focus on quantitative linking models. In the final talk, Marieke Mur will reflect on what fMRI has taught us about high-level visual processes, and outline how understanding the temporal dynamics of object recognition will play an important role in the development of the next generation of computational models of human vision. Overall, the combination of a historical perspective and an overview of current trends in neuroimaging presented in this symposium will lead to informed discussion about what future directions will prove most fruitful for answering fundamental questions in vision science.


Technological advances are the scaffold for propelling science forward in social neuroscience

Aina Puce1; 1Indiana University

Over the last 20 years, neuroimaging techniques [e.g. EEG/MEG, fMRI] were used to map neural activity within a core and extended brain network to study how we use social information from faces. By the 20th century’s end, neuroimaging methods had identified the building blocks of this network, but how these parts came together to make a whole was unknown. In 20 years, technological advances in data acquisition and analysis have occurred in a number of spheres. First, network neuroscience has progressed our understanding of which brain regions functionally connect with one another on a regular basis. Second, improvements in white matter tract tracing have allowed putative underlying white matter pathways to be identified for some functional networks. Third, [non-]invasive brain stimulation has allowed the identification of some causal relationships between brain activity and behavior. Fourth, technological developments in portable EEG and MEG systems propelled social neuroscience out of the laboratory and into the [ecologically valid] wide world. This is changing activation task design as well as data analysis. Potential advantages of these ‘wild type’ approaches include the increased signal-to-noise provided by a live interactive 3D visual stimulus e.g. another human being, instead of an isolated static face on a computer monitor. Fifth, work with machine learning algorithms has begun to differentiate brain/non-brain activity in these datasets. Finally, we are finally ‘putting the brain back into the body’ – whereby recordings of brain activity are made in conjunction with physiological signals including EKG, EMG, pupil dilation, and eye position.

Understanding the functional roles of top-down feedback in the visual system

Frank Tong1; 1Vanderbilt University

Over the last 20 years, neuroimaging techniques have shed light on the modulatory nature of top-down feedback signals in the visual system. What is the functional role of top-down feedback and might there be multiple types of feedback that can be implemented through automatic and controlled processes? Studies of voluntary covert attention have demonstrated the flexible nature of attentional templates, which can be tuned to particular spatial locations, visual features or to the structure of more complex objects. Although top-down feedback is typically attributed to visual attention, there is growing evidence that multiple forms of feedback exist. Studies of visual imagery and working memory indicate the flexible nature of top-down feedback from frontal-parietal areas to early visual areas for maintaining and manipulating visual information about stimuli that are no longer in view. Theories of predictive coding propose that higher visual areas encode feedforward signals according to learned higher order patterns, and that any unexplained components are fed back as residual error signals to lower visual areas for further processing. These feedback error signals may serve to define an image region as more salient, figural, or stronger in apparent contrast. Here, I will discuss both theory and supporting evidence of multiple forms of top-down feedback, and consider how deep learning networks can be used to evaluate the utility of predictive coding models for understanding vision. I will go on to discuss what important questions remain to be addressed regarding the nature of feedback in the visual system.

Using neuroimaging to better understand behavior

Janneke Jehee1,2; 1Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, 2Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Over the past 20 years, functional MRI has become an important tool in the methodological arsenal of the vision scientist. The technique has led to many amazing discoveries, ranging from human brain areas involved in face perception to information about stimulus orientation in early visual activity. While providing invaluable insights, most of the work to date has sought to link visual stimuli to a cortical response, with far less attention paid to how such cortical stimulus representations might give rise to behavior. I will argue that a crucial next step in visual neuroimaging is to connect cortical activity to behavior, and will illustrate this using our recent work on perceptual decision-making.

Using neuroimaging to link cortical activity to human visual perception

Justin Gardner1; 1Stanford University

Over the last 20 years, human neuroimaging, in particular BOLD imaging, has become the dominant technique for determining visual field representations and measuring selectivity to various visual stimuli in the human cortex. Indeed, BOLD imaging has proven decisive in settling long standing disputes that other techniques such as electrophysiological recordings of single neurons provided only equivocal evidence for. For example, by showing that cognitive influences due to attention or perceptual state could be readily measured in so-called early sensory areas. Part of this success is due to the ability to make precise behavioral measurements through psychophysics in humans which can quantitatively measure such cognitive effects. Leveraging this ability to make quantitive behavioral measurements with concurrent measurement of cortical activity with BOLD imaging, we can provide answers to a central question of visual neuroscience: What is the link between cortical activity and perceptual behavior? To make continued progress in the next 20 years towards answering this question, we must turn to quantitative linking models that formalize hypothesized relationships between cortical activity and perceptual behavior. Such quantitative linking models are falsifiable hypotheses whose success or failure can be determined by their ability or inability to quantitatively account for behavioral and neuroimaging measurements. These linking models will allow us to determine the cortical mechanisms that underly visual perception and account for cognitive influences such as attention on perceptual behavior.

High-level vision: from category selectivity to representational geometry

Marieke Mur1; 1Western University, London ON, Canada

Over the last two decades, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has provided important insights into the organization and function of the human visual system. In this talk, I will reflect on what fMRI has taught us about high-level visual processes, with an emphasis on object recognition. The discovery of object-selective and category-selective regions in high-level visual cortex suggested that the visual system contains functional modules specialized for processing behaviourally relevant object categories. Subsequent studies, however, showed that distributed patterns of activity across high-level visual cortex also contain category information. These findings challenged the idea of category-selective modules, suggesting that these regions may instead be clusters in a continuous feature map. Consistent with this organizational framework, object representations in high-level visual cortex are at once categorical and continuous: the representational code emphasizes category divisions of longstanding evolutionary relevance while still distinguishing individual images. This body of work provides important insights on the nature of high-level visual representations, but it leaves open how these representations are dynamically computed from images. In recent years, deep neural networks have begun to provide a computationally explicit account of how the ventral visual stream may transform images into meaningful representations. I will close off with a discussion on how neuroimaging data can benefit the development of the next generation of computational models of human vision and how understanding the temporal dynamics of object recognition will play an important role in this endeavor.

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Vision Sciences Society