Eduard OrtPhD student
Working on the ORA project “Tracing the attentional template: Investigating the representation of perceptual relevance” with my promoters Chris Olivers and Johannes Fahrenfort.
After having received my Bachelor’s degree from the Otto-von-Guericke University (OvGU) in Magdeburg (Germany), I moved to Amsterdam in order to follow the research master program cognitive neuropsychology at the Free University Amsterdam (VU). Subsequently, I started doing my PhD in the department of cognitive psychology here at the VU.
Throughout my studies, I worked as a research assistant in various labs (traffic psychology, OvGU; experimental Psychology, OvGU; cognitive psychology, VU), did an internship at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and worked in a psychiatric hospital (Hochweitzschen). In course of all these, I had great opportunities to investigate the human mind applying various methods, such as eye-tracking, EEG and fMRI.
The mental representation of what we are looking for is called the attentional template. It is a flexible representation reflecting current selection preferences, as derived from continuously changing task demands and prior selection history. Even though attentional templates are essential for shaping and controlling perception and action in everyday life, surprisingly little is known about their nature. For example, is it possible to look for multiple things in parallel without affecting the quality of the attentional template of each of the targets? This project investigates the nature of the attentional template, specifically, the types of preference it can hold, how these change as a function of experience, and the neural codes underlying these representations.
Understanding the mechanisms leading to the incredible efficiency with which the brain selects information that is relevant for a certain goal, has been my main research interest for quite some time now. In my opinion, being able to pursue a task, largely independently of distracting exogenous stimulation, is one of the defining features that make up “human intelligence”. Aside of this, I am highly interested in methodological advances in analyzing neural time series data, in particular, machine learning techniques like multivariate pattern analysis.