Assistant professor

Tomas Knapen

Assistant professor

Phone: +31 (0) 20 598 99 74
Room: 1B-57

Personal webpage


I am working on an NWO ORA project investigating the multimodal spatial representation of attentional targets in the human brain using fMRI. Furthermore, I am involved in many of the ongoing ERC projects investigating reward and its impacts on attention and visual processing. The methods I use range from behaviour and psychophysics, to eye movement and pupil size recordings, EEG/MEG and fMRI. In terms of data analysis, I prefer to use fully open-source and documented methods (implemented in python) for the implementation of FIR and encoding model estimation.


After studying biology (theoretical / neurobiology) at the University of Amsterdam, I did a PhD at the physics of man department at Utrecht University on the topic of bistable perception. During and after my PhD I did psychophysics and fMRI projects at CalTech and Vanderbilt, in the Shimojo and Blake labs. My first postdoc was in Paris, France under the guidance of Patrick Cavanagh, during which I also conducted an fMRI experiment, again at Vanderbilt - but now at the Tong lab. After this postdoc I received an NWO VENI grant, which I used to investigate eye movement processes in the brain using fMRI, at the University of Amsterdam. At the end of this grant period, I left for a faculty position at the Cog Psy department at the VU University.

Research interests

I am interested in how the brain performs computations that allow it to perceive and act, and how these computations are learned. Specific topics of interest are 1. reward processing and neural plasticity in the visual system, 2. brain mechanism underlying attention and eye movements, leading into 3. the mechanisms of motor and perceptual learning. 4. I am also still very much involved in the investigation of bistable perception and its neural correlates.


Google Scholar

Recent publications

J Brascamp, P Sterzer, R Blake & T Knapen (2018) Multistable Perception and the Role of the Frontoparietal Cortex in Perceptual Inference. Annual review of psychology 69, 77-1033
JC Van Slooten, S Jahfari, T Knapen & J Theeuwes (2017) Individual differences in eye blink rate predict both transient and tonic pupil responses during reversal learning. PloS one 12 (9), e0185665
L Reteig, T Knapen, K Ridderinkhof & H Slagter (2017) Transcranial direct current stimulation of the right frontal eye field to affect saccade execution. Journal of Vision 17 (10), 898-898
S Jahfari, KR Ridderinkhof, AGE Collins, T Knapen, L Waldorp & MJ Frank (2017) Cross-task contributions of fronto-basal ganglia circuitry in response inhibition and conflict-induced slowing. bioRxiv, 199299
T van Mourik, L Snoek, T Knapen & D Norris (2017) Porcupine: a visual pipeline tool for neuroimaging analysis. bioRxiv, 187344
DM van Es, J Theeuwes & T Knapen (2017) Global interactions between feature-based and spatial attention redistribute feature sensitivity across visual space. bioRxiv, 147223
JW de Gee, O Colizoli, NA Kloosterman, T Knapen, S Nieuwenhuis & ... (2017) Dynamic modulation of decision biases by brainstem arousal systems. eLife 67
E Kupers, J Brascamp & T Knapen (2016) Spatiotemporal BOLD correlates of switches in bistable perception. Journal of Vision 16 (12), 1216-1216
T Knapen, R Blake & J Brascamp (2016) Unreportable switches in bistable perception produce negligible fronto-parietal BOLD activity.. Journal of Vision 16 (12), 1327-1327
D van Es & T Knapen (2016) Attention Improves Stimulus Encoding in Early Visual Cortex. Journal of Vision 16 (12), 1306-1306
J Van Slooten, T Knapen & J Theeuwes (2016) Through the eyes, fast and slow: behaviourally relevant pupil responses on separate timescales. Journal of Vision 16 (12), 85-85
O Colizoli, JMJ Murre, HS Scholte, DM van Es, T Knapen & R Rouw (2016) Visual cortex activity predicts subjective experience after reading books with colored letters. Neuropsychologia 88, 15-272
T Knapen, JW de Gee, J Brascamp, S Nuiten, S Hoppenbrouwers & ... (2016) Cognitive and ocular factors jointly determine pupil responses under equiluminance. PloS one 11 (5), e015557413
DM van Es & THJ Knapen (2016) Attention Warps Brain Space in a Somatotopic Frame of Reference.
T Knapen, JD Swisher, F Tong & P Cavanagh (2016) Oculomotor Remapping of Visual Information to Foveal Retinotopic Cortex. Frontiers in systems neuroscience 101
J Brascamp, R Blake & T Knapen (2015) Negligible fronto-parietal BOLD activity accompanying unreportable switches in bistable perception. Nature neuroscience 18 (11), 1672-167838
J van Driel, T Knapen, DM van Es & MX Cohen (2014) Interregional alpha-band synchrony supports temporal cross-modal integration. Neuroimage 101, 404-41519
JW de Gee, T Knapen & TH Donner (2014) Decision-related pupil dilation reflects upcoming choice and individual bias. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (5), E618-E62581
THJ Knapen (2014) Saccadic adaptation violates Hering’s law of equal innervation on multiple timescales.
WJ Adams, THJ Knapen, EW Graf & JW Brascamp (2013) Effects of spatial attention on motion aftereffects.. Journal of Vision 13 (9), 378-3781

View full list of publications on Google Scholar