Jeroen SilvisPhD Student
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I am currently working on an ORA-project (NWO) titled ‘Assessing, understanding, and modeling visual salience and its dynamical impact on perception and selection’ with my advisors dr. Mieke Donk and prof. dr. Jan Theeuwes. This is a project in collaboration with prof. dr. Ingrid Scharlau (Paderborn University) and prof. dr. Zhaoping Li (University College London).
My name is Jeroen Silvis, and I was born and raised in Haarlem, the Netherlands. In 2005, I started my academic career at Leiden University where I studied Psychology (BSc). In the final year of my Bachelor’s, I got to work on a project supervised by dr. Henk van Steenbergen, on the interaction of emotional moods and cognitive control. I developed a passion for science and continued in Leiden with the research master Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc). As an internship abroad, I spend half a year in Wales, at Bangor University, where I studied the capacity limitations of visual working memory. This project was supervised by prof. dr. Kimron Shapiro, with whom I eventually wrote one of my first scientific publications. After graduating in Leiden, I started working as a research assistant at Utrecht University for dr. Stefan van der Stigchel. It was there where I was taught the ins and outs of eye tracking, while investigating the effects of working memory content on oculomotor behavior. Currently, as a PhD student, I am still employing my eye tracking skills to study visual salience, working memory, perception, and reward adaptation.
One of the most striking things I have learned during my studies is that there are often contradictions between what we think and what we actually do. Often it appears that we behave exactly like we intent, while in fact, it is our environment that guides us. Particularly when zooming in on the millisecond level, our reactions seem dominated by the characteristics of stimuli in our surroundings rather than the goals we have in mind. One such characteristic is visual salience. With my research I would like to pinpoint in which situations salience is an important factor in our behavior. I am also fascinated by other mechanisms that we do not seem to control, such as feature priming and reward adaptation. To what extent are these the processes that determine what we do, and to what extent can we determine ourselves what we do? Studying eye movements in human subjects, I am slowly but gradually gaining more insight.