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

S Los, M Meeter & W Kruijne (2021) Is temporal orienting a voluntary and controlled process?. Journal of Vision 21 (9), 67-67
Z Xu, SA Los & J Theeuwes (2021) Attentional suppression in time and space.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 47 (8 …1
SA Los, J Nieuwenstein, A Bouharab, DJ Stephens, M Meeter & W Kruijne (2021) The warning stimulus as retrieval cue: The role of associative memory in temporal preparation. Cognitive psychology 125, 1013783
EM Crowe, SA Los, L Schindler & C Kent (2021) Transfer effects in auditory temporal preparation occur using an unfilled but not filled foreperiod. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1747021821995452
SJE Bruijniks, SA Los & MJH Huibers (2020) Direct effects of cognitive therapy skill acquisition on cognitive therapy skill use, idiosyncratic dysfunctional beliefs and emotions in distressed individuals: An …. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry 67, 1014605
KO Solis, A van Loon, S Los & C Olivers (2018) Microsaccades reveal the temporal dynamics of template and response preparation during visual search.. Journal of Vision 18 (10), 1031-1031
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 24 (6), 1900-190512
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 236, 1-2319
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), 7847
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), 921-92733
M Otten, D Schreij & SA Los (2016) The interplay of goal-driven and stimulus-driven influences on spatial orienting. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 78 (6), 1642-16545
X Zhu, P Cesar & S Los (2015) How to Catch the Consumers’ Heart: emotional effect of advertisements on buying behaviour. VU University Amsterdam1
C Hickey & SA Los (2015) Reward priming of temporal preparation. Visual Cognition 23 (1-2), 25-4010
SA Los, W Kruijne & M Meeter (2014) Outlines of a multiple trace theory of temporal preparation. Frontiers in Psychology 5, 105866
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), 37821
SA Los & E Van der Burg (2013) Sound speeds vision through preparation, not integration.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 39 (6 …41
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), 499-5057
SA Los (2013) The role of response inhibition in temporal preparation: Evidence from a go/no-go task. Cognition 129 (2), 328-34440
E van der Burg & S Los (2013) Sound speeds vision through preparation, not integration. Multisensory Research 26 (1-2), 91-91
SA Los & H Horoufchin (2011) Dissociative patterns of foreperiod effects in temporal discrimination and reaction time tasks. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 64 (5), 1009-102022

View full list of publications on Google Scholar