Assistant professor

Sander Los

Assistant professor

Phone: +31 (0) 20 598 8796
Room: 1B-79


After attaining my master’s degree in experimental psychology at the VU in 1988, I spent 16 months at the TNO institute of applied science in Soesterberg, where I was involved in research financed by the Dutch ministry of defense. I returned to the VU in 1990 and attained my PhD degree in 1994 under supervision of prof. dr. Andries Sanders. My thesis was titled: “on the origin of mixing costs: exploring information processing in pure and mixed blocks of trials”, which was later published in Acta Psychologica (Los, 1996). I continued my career at the VU, first as a post doc and later as an assistant professor. During this period, my research focus has been on human timing processes (see Research Interests below). I am also actively involved as a teacher of several courses in the bachelor’s program (B1_CognitivePsychology and B3_ResearachMethods) and the research master’s program Cognitive Neuropsychology (Practical skills for researchers).

Research interests

Timing is crucial in many everyday activities, such as driving a car or catching a ball. How do we learn the temporal contingencies among events? I have studied this question in reaction time experiments by varying the foreperiod between a warning and target stimulus. It is well known that both the duration and distribution of foreperiods have strong effects on mean reaction time. My old trace conditioning model explains these effects by assuming trial by trial adjustments of a conditioned state. However, this model turned out to be “nearsighted” as it cannot explain temporal effects stemming from the more distant past. To repair this shortcoming, my colleagues and I (Los et al., 2014) have recently proposed a multiple trace theory, which assumes that each timing experience of both the recent and more distant past contributes to current timing. We are currently testing this theory. In addition to the role of learning in human timing, I am also interested in the time course of the preparatory process that develops during the foreperiod. Here I have coined the idea of “effective preparation period”, asking when preparation starts and when it ends. Recent findings strongly suggest that preparation starts sometime after the onset of the warning stimulus and continues for a while after the onset of the target (Los & van der Burg, 2013).


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Recent publications

K Olmos-Solis, AM van Loon, SA Los & CNL Olivers (2017) Oculomotor measures reveal the temporal dynamics of preparing for search. Progress in Brain Research
RM Mattiesing, W Kruijne, M Meeter & SA Los (2017) Timing a week later: The role of long-term memory in temporal preparation. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 1-6
SA Los, W Kruijne & M Meeter (2017) Hazard versus history: Temporal preparation is driven by past experience.. Journal of experimental psychology: human perception and performance 43 (1), 784
KW Heikoop, M Declerck, SA Los & I Koch (2016) Dissociating language-switch costs from cue-switch costs in bilingual language switching. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 19 (5), 921-9273
M Otten, D Schreij & SA Los (2016) The interplay of goal-driven and stimulus-driven influences on spatial orienting. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 78 (6), 1642-1654
C Hickey & SA Los (2015) Reward priming of temporal preparation. Visual Cognition 23 (1-2), 25-405
X Zhu, P Cesar & S Los (2015) How to Catch the Consumers’ Heart: emotional effect of advertisements on buying behaviour. VU University Amsterdam
D Schreij, SA Los, J Theeuwes, JT Enns & CNL Olivers (2014) The interaction between stimulus-driven and goal-driven orienting as revealed by eye movements.. Journal of experimental psychology: human perception and performance 40 (1), 37811
SA Los, W Kruijne & M Meeter (2014) Outlines of a multiple trace theory of temporal preparation. Frontiers in psychology 515
SA Los & E Van der Burg (2013) Sound speeds vision through preparation, not integration.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 39 (6 ...19
SA Los, JF Hoorn, M Grin & E Van der Burg (2013) The time course of temporal preparation in an applied setting: a study of gaming behavior. Acta psychologica 144 (3), 499-5054
SA Los (2013) The role of response inhibition in temporal preparation: Evidence from a go/no-go task. Cognition 129 (2), 328-34413
SA Los & H Horoufchin (2011) Dissociative patterns of foreperiod effects in temporal discrimination and reaction time tasks. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 64 (5), 1009-102013
SA Los & E Van der Burg (2010) The origin of switch costs: Task preparation or task application?. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 63 (10), 1895-19156
SA Los (2010) Foreperiod and sequential effects: theory and data. Attention and time 289 (302), 2436
SA Los & MLJ Schut (2008) The effective time course of preparation. Cognitive psychology 57 (1), 20-5555
RM Van Lambalgen & SA Los (2008) The role of attention in nonspecific preparation. Proceedings of the 30th annual conference of the cognitive science society ...8
T Bosse, CM Jonker, SA Los, L Van Der Torre & J Treur (2007) Formal analysis of trace conditioning. Cognitive Systems Research 8 (1), 36-4711
SA Los & F Agter (2005) Reweighting sequential effects across different distributions of foreperiods: Segregating elementary contributions to nonspecific preparation. Perception & Psychophysics 67 (7), 1161-117040
T Bosse, CM Jonker, SA Los, L Van Der Torre & J Treur (2005) Formalisation and analysis of the temporal dynamics of conditioning. International Workshop on Agent-Oriented Software Engineering, 54-689

View full list of publications on Google Scholar