Assistant professor

Johannes Fahrenfort

Assistant professor

Phone: +31 (0) 20 598 6907
Room: 1B-69

Personal webpage


I am currently working on a number of projects. One project in the context of an ORA grant awarded to Chris Olivers in which I investigate the role of binding in working memory representations using time frequency analysis and multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) on EEG data. Another project pertains the degree to which feature integration depends on attention using MVPA and EEG. Finally, I'm in the process of setting up an EEG experiment to look at the contribution of attention and predictability on predictive coding measures in EEG. I also have a number of collaborations with other people on various topics.


I work at the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam where I perform research on visual perception, covering topics such as consciousness, attention, object categorization, figure-ground segregation, working memory and visual search. During my PhD I have used a combination of psychophysical methods, EEG and fMRI to determine the processing stages involved in conscious and unconscious vision. My first experiments focused on determining whether the initial sweep of cortical processing is consciously accessible, and which stages of information processing correlate with perception. Using a masking paradigm, I have shown that the brain detects stimuli during the first sweep of cortical processing, even when subjects are unaware of ever having processed these stimuli, culminating in a paper that is now highly cited in the literature. This and subsequent papers have shown that conscious experience emerges only when recurrent interactions take place between higher and lower cortical areas. Recently, I have further explored the extent and complexity of unconscious processing, extending my initial findings to show that the brain is not only able to detect stimuli outside of awareness, but that it is able to unconsciously extract highly complex information, such as the category of an object. After my PhD I have worked at Utrecht University as an assistant professor, and I am currently working as an assistant professor at the Free University (VU).

Research interests

I am interested in exploring the relationship between cortical processing and conscious vision and to what degree the experience of seeing depends on attention. Particularly, I am interested in tying functional aspects of vision, as for example feature binding and predictive coding, to experiential aspects of vision, such as surface and shape perception in order to determine the relationship between function and experience. Contiguously, I am interested in determining to what degree conscious vision exists without selective attention as modulatory or causal force. Recently, I am expanding these questions into the domain of visual working memory.


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Recent publications

MD Weaver, JJ Fahrenfort, A Belopolsky & S van Gaal (2019) Independent neural activity patterns for sensory-and confidence-based information maintenance during category-selective visual processing. eNeuro, ENEURO. 0268-18.2018
J van Driel, CNL Olivers & JJ Fahrenfort (2019) High-pass filtering artifacts in multivariate classification of neural time series data. bioRxiv, 530220
S Kellij, J Fahrenfort, H Lau, MAK Peters & B Odegaard (2018) The foundations of introspective access: how the relative precision of target encoding influences metacognitive performance. PsyArXiv
AM van Loon, K Olmos-Solis, JJ Fahrenfort & CNL Olivers (2018) Current and future goals are represented in opposite patterns in object-selective cortex. eLife 7, e38677
E Ort, JJ Fahrenfort & CNL Olivers (2018) Lack of free choice reveals the cost of multiple-target search within and across feature dimensions. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 80 (8), 1904-1917
E Ort, J Fahrenfort, M Hanke, F Kaule, R Reeder, S Pollmann & C Olivers (2018) Dissociating proactive from reactive control in multiple-target visual search. Journal of Vision 18 (10), 982-982
J Van Driel, E Ort, JJ Fahrenfort & CNL Olivers (2018) Beta and theta oscillations differentially support free versus forced control over multiple-target search. BioRxiv, 422691
JJ Fahrenfort, J Van Driel, S Van Gaal & CNL Olivers (2018) From ERPs to MVPA using the Amsterdam Decoding and Modeling toolbox (ADAM). Frontiers in neuroscience 12
E Gunseli, JJ Fahrenfort, D van Moorselaar, KCC Daoultzis, M Meeter & ... (2018) Unattended but actively stored: EEG dynamics reveal a dissociation between selective attention and storage in working memory. bioRxiv, 320952
NA Kloosterman, JW de Gee, M Werkle-Bergner, U Lindenberger & ... (2018) Criterion Setting is Implemented through Flexible Adjustment of Neural Excitability in Human Visual Cortex. bioRxiv, 229989
E Ort, JJ Fahrenfort & CNL Olivers (2017) Lack of free choice reveals the cost of having to search for more than one object. Psychological science 28 (8), 1137-1147
N Bault, JJ Fahrenfort, B Pelloux, KR Ridderinkhof & F van Winden (2017) An affective social tie mechanism: Theory, evidence, and implications. Journal of Economic Psychology 61, 152-175
JJ Fahrenfort, A Grubert, CNL Olivers & M Eimer (2017) Multivariate EEG analyses support high-resolution tracking of feature-based attentional selection. Scientific Reports 7 (1), 1886
JJ Fahrenfort, J van Leeuwen, CNL Olivers & H Hogendoorn (2017) Perceptual integration without conscious access. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114 (14), 3744-3749
A Grubert, JJ Fahrenfort, CNL Olivers & M Eimer (2017) Rapid top-down control over template-guided attention shifts to multiple objects. Neuroimage 146, 843-858
JJ Fahrenfort, J van Leeuwen, J Foster, E Awh & CNL Olivers (2017) Working memory implements distinct maintenance mechanisms depending on task goals. bioRxiv, 162537
C Van Den Boomen, JJ Fahrenfort, TM Snijders & C Kemner (2015) Segmentation precedes face categorization under suboptimal conditions. Frontiers in psychology 6, 667
AM van Loon, JJ Fahrenfort, B van der Velde, PB Lirk, NCC Vulink & ... (2015) NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine distorts object recognition by reducing feedback to early visual cortex. Cerebral Cortex 26 (5), 1986-1996
AM van Loon, IIA Groen, JJ Fahrenfort, VAF Lamme & HS Scholte (2015) The role of recognition in shaping neural category representations.
N Bault, B Pelloux, JJ Fahrenfort, KR Ridderinkhof & F van Winden (2014) Neural dynamics of social tie formation in economic decision-making. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience 10 (6), 877-884

View full list of publications on Google Scholar