Katya Olmos SolisPhD student
I am working on the ERC-project “The template 2.0: depicting the picture in your head”, under the supervision of Dr. Anouk van Loon and my promotor, Professor Chris Olivers.
I finished my Bachelor degree in psychology at the Universidad Del Norte, in Barranquilla Colombia. In 2012, I moved abroad to continue my studies at the VU University Amsterdam where I recently completed the Research Master in Cognitive Neuropsychology (MSc). During my Master thesis, together with my supervisors Dirk van Moorselaar, Chris Olivers, and Tomas Knapen, I worked on a project that employed population Receptive Field models to decode Working Memories of Complex Visual Stimuli. Currently, I am a PhD student in the ERC project awarded to professor Chris Olivers, to study the interactions between working memory, long term memory, and attention.
Current models of visual exploration assume that the brain maintains some representation of what we are currently looking for. For instance, when looking for tomatoes in the supermarket, you can evoke a mental image of how they look like, which helps you to choose tomatoes instead of apples or chilies. This picture in your head, or attentional template as it is often called, is considered a “top down” representation maintained in working memory that influences visual selection and makes us smart and efficient when we explore the visual world. However, there is no explicit account of what its properties and brain mechanisms are. My main interest is to uncover the influence of long-term knowledge on attentional templates. Templates in visual attention research are often assumed to be short-term and purely visual in nature, but there is considerable evidence that human orienting is driven by long-term representations, including categorical and semantic knowledge. My project seeks to uncover the differences between these types of templates, and how the transition from one type to the other occurs with learning. Using eye tracking and fMRI-MVPA, I seek to develop new paradigms to probe the template and distinguish it from other memory representations.