PhD student

Michel Failing

PhD student

Room: 1E-17

Personal webpage


Reward and Attention


In 2010, I finished my B.A. in psychology at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In my thesis I examined the influence of (non-)primed gaze and head movements on outcome expectations of a full-body movement in a sport setting with support and supervision of Prof. Dr. Ruud Meulenbroek.

During my master I engaged in several different research activities, for instance in the function of a student assistant assisting in different projects on shared attention and imitation in the Social Mind and Body (SOMBY) lab of Prof. Dr. Günther Knoblich and Dr. Nathalie Sebanz at the Radboud University Nijmegen. I also assisted Adam Lobel and Prof. Dr. Isabel Granic in research on how video games train emotion regulation skills (extracurricular activity).

In 2012, I finished my M.Sc. (research) in cognitive neuroscience (“Perception, Action and Control” track) at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In my thesis I examined the influence of top-down expectations on subjective visual perception of contrast intensity with support and supervision of Dr. Peter Kok and Dr. Floris de Lange.

In 2012, I started working as a PhD student under supervision of Prof. Dr. Jan Theeuwes in the Theeuwes lab here at the VU. The project I am currently involved in addresses the question of how reward is affecting visual attention and perception.

For more detailed information, please find my scientific résumé on my personal homepage.

Research interests

My research interests involve visual attention, perception and perceptual decision-making. In particular, I am interested in how they are shaped by our past (learning and memory) and our current states (prediction and motivation). To unravel these relationships I use psychophysical, fMRI or EEG methods.


Google Scholar

Recent publications

T Nissens, M Failing & J Theeuwes (2017) People look at the object they fear: Oculomotor capture by stimuli that signal threat. Cognition and emotion 31 (8), 1707-17142
M Failing & J Theeuwes (2017) Selection history: How reward modulates selectivity of visual attention. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 1-252
M Failing & J Theeuwes (2017) Don’t let it distract you: How information about the availability of reward affects attentional selection. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 1-248
D Pearson, R Osborn, TJ Whitford, M Failing, J Theeuwes & ME Le Pelley (2016) Value-modulated oculomotor capture by task-irrelevant stimuli is a consequence of early competition on the saccade map. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 78 (7), 2226-22407
M Failing & J Theeuwes (2016) Don't Let It Distract You: Availability of Reward Affects Attentional Selection. Journal of Vision 16 (12), 1018-1018
M Failing & J Theeuwes (2016) Reward alters the perception of time. Cognition 148, 19-2616
M Failing, T Nissens, D Pearson, M Le Pelley & J Theeuwes (2015) Oculomotor capture by stimuli that signal the availability of reward. Journal of neurophysiology 114 (4), 2316-232723
M Failing & J Theeuwes (2015) Reward Alters Perception of Time.. Journal of vision 15 (12), 449-449
J Theeuwes & MF Failing (2015) Attentional and oculomotor capture by stimuli that signal the availability of reward.. Journal of vision 15 (12), 308-308
MF Failing & J Theeuwes (2015) Nonspatial attentional capture by previously rewarded scene semantics. Visual Cognition 23 (1-2), 82-10411
MF Failing & J Theeuwes (2014) Exogenous visual orienting by reward. Journal of Vision 14 (5), 6-653
P Kok, MF Failing & FP de Lange (2014) Prior Expectations Evoke Stimulus Templates in the Primary Visual Cortex. Journal of cognitive neuroscience 26 (7), 1546-155470

View full list of publications on Google Scholar