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

A Canales-Johnson, AFT Borges, M Komatsu, N Fujii, JJ Fahrenfort & ... (2021) Broadband Dynamics Rather than Frequency-Specific Rhythms Underlie Prediction Error in the Primate Auditory Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience
J Francken, L Beerendonk, D Molenaar, J Fahrenfort, J Kiverstein, A Seth & ... (2021) An academic survey on theoretical foundations, common assumptions and the current state of the field of consciousness science. PsyArXiv
SA Nuiten, A Canales-Johnson, L Beerendonk, N Nanuashvili & ... (2021) Preserved sensory processing but hampered conflict detection when stimulus input is task-irrelevant. Elife 10, e64431
T Stein, D Kaiser, JJ Fahrenfort & S Van Gaal (2021) The human visual system differentially represents subjectively and objectively invisible stimuli. PLoS biology 19 (5), e3001241
JJ Fahrenfort & S van Gaal (2021) Criteria for empirical theories of consciousness should focus on the explanatory power of mechanisms, not on functional equivalence. Cognitive Neuroscience 12 (2), 93-94
J Munneke, JJ Fahrenfort, D Sutterer, J Theeuwes & E Awh (2021) Multivariate analysis of EEG activity indexes contingent attentional capture. NeuroImage 226, 117562
J van Driel, CNL Olivers & JJ Fahrenfort (2021) High-pass filtering artifacts in multivariate classification of neural time series data. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 352 (2), 109080
CY Fong, WHC Law, JJ Fahrenfort, JJ Braithwaite & A Mazaheri (2021) Attenuated alpha oscillations as an index of cortical hyperexcitability: Evidence from migraine patients. medRxiv
S Kellij, J Fahrenfort, H Lau, MAK Peters & B Odegaard (2021) An investigation of how relative precision of target encoding influences metacognitive performance. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 83 (1), 512-524
A Canales-Johnson, L Beerendonk, S Blain, S Kitaoka & ... (2020) Decreased alertness reconfigures cognitive control networks. Journal of Neuroscience 40 (37), 7142-7154
NA Kloosterman, JQ Kosciessa, U Lindenberger, JJ Fahrenfort & ... (2020) Boosts in brain signal variability track liberal shifts in decision bias. Elife 9, e54201
FL Bouwer, JJ Fahrenfort, SK Millard & HA Slagter (2020) A silent disco: Persistent entrainment of low-frequency neural oscillations underlies beat-based, but not memory-based temporal expectations. bioRxiv
E Ort, JJ Fahrenfort, R Reeder, S Pollmann & CNL Olivers (2019) Frontal cortex differentiates between free and imposed target selection in multiple-target search. NeuroImage 202, 116133
E G√ľnseli, JJ Fahrenfort, D van Moorselaar, KC Daoultzis, M Meeter & ... (2019) EEG dynamics reveal a dissociation between storage and selective attention within working memory. Scientific reports 9 (1), 1-13
CNL Olivers, E Ort, J van Driel & JJ Fahrenfort (2019) Proactive and Reactive Control Over Target Selection in Visual Search. PERCEPTION 48, 48-48
E Ort, JJ Fahrenfort, T Ten Cate, M Eimer & CNL Olivers (2019) Humans can efficiently look for but not select multiple visual objects. Elife 8, e49130
C Van den Boomen, JJ Fahrenfort, TM Snijders & C Kemner (2019) Slow segmentation of faces in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Neuropsychologia 127, 1-8
J van Driel, E Ort, JJ Fahrenfort & CNL Olivers (2019) Beta and theta oscillations differentially support free versus forced control over multiple-target search. Journal of Neuroscience 39 (9), 1733-1743
NA Kloosterman, JW de Gee, M Werkle-Bergner, U Lindenberger & ... (2019) Humans strategically shift decision bias by flexibly adjusting sensory evidence accumulation. eLife 8, e37321
E Ort, J Fahrenfort & C Olivers (2019) Intention, not predictability, abolishes switch costs in multiple-target search. NVP Wintercongres

View full list of publications on Google Scholar