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

T Knapen (2020) Visual topographic organization in human hippocampus revealed by connective field modelling during naturalistic vision and resting state.. Journal of Vision 20 (11), 984-984
M Aqil, T Knapen & S Dumoulin (2020) Biologically inspired unification of population receptive field models provides new insights into cortical computations. Journal of Vision 20 (11), 377-377
MC de Jong, MJ Vansteensel, R van Ee, FSS Leijten, NF Ramsey & ... (2020) Intracranial recordings reveal unique shape and timing of responses in human visual cortex during illusory visual events. Current Biology 30 (16), 3089-3100. e41
L Raimondo, T Knapen, IAF de Oliveira, X Yu, SO Dumoulin & ... (2020) Functional line-scanning in humans with ultra-high spatiotemporal resolution: reconstruction and BOLD sensitivity assessment. 2020 ISMRM & SMRT Virtual Conference & Exhibition
M Szinte & T Knapen (2020) Visual Organization of the Default Network. Cerebral Cortex 30 (6), 3518-35275
S Jahfari, J Theeuwes & T Knapen (2020) Learning in visual regions as support for the bias in future value-driven choice. Cerebral Cortex 30 (4), 2005-20181
T Knapen (2020) Topographic connectivity reveals task-dependent retinotopic processing throughout the human brain.. bioRxiv
EH Silson, P Zeidman, TH Knapen & CI Baker (2020) Representation of contralateral visual space in the human hippocampus. BioRxiv1
G de Hollander, W van der Zwaag, C Qiang, P Zhang & T Knapen (2020) Ultra-high resolution fMRI reveals origins of feedforward and feedback activity within laminae of human ocular dominance columns. bioRxiv1
B McCoy, S Jahfari, G Engels, T Knapen & J Theeuwes (2019) Dopaminergic medication reduces striatal sensitivity to negative outcomes in Parkinson’s disease. Brain 142 (11), 3605-36209
G de Hollander, W van der Zwaag, C Qiang, P Zhang & T Knapen (2019) Multi-center mapping of human ocular dominance columns with BOLD fMRI. Journal of Vision 19 (10), 64b-64b
M Szinte, DM van Es & T Knapen (2019) The visual selectivity of the default mode network. Journal of Vision 19 (10), 212-2121
L Raimondo, T Knapen, IAF Oliveira, X Yu, W van der Zwaag & J Siero (2019) Preliminary results of functional line-scanning in humans: submillimeter, subsecond resolution evoked responses. No longer published by Elsevier
CHJ Hof, A Akhmerov, M Cruz, N Drost, T Knapen, M Kuzak & ... (2019) Raising the Profile of Research Software. Zenodo
DM van Es, W Van Der Zwaag & T Knapen (2019) Topographic maps of visual space in the human cerebellum. Current Biology 29 (10), 1689-1694. e319
JC Van Slooten, S Jahfari, T Knapen & J Theeuwes (2019) Correction: How pupil responses track value-based decision-making during and after reinforcement learning. PLoS computational biology 15 (5), e1007031
JC Van Slooten, S Jahfari, T Knapen & J Theeuwes (2019) How pupil responses track value-based decision-making during and after reinforcement learning (vol 14, e1006632, 2018).. PLOS COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY 15 (5)
S Jahfari, KR Ridderinkhof, AGE Collins, T Knapen, LJ Waldorp & MJ Frank (2019) Cross-task contributions of frontobasal ganglia circuitry in response inhibition and conflict-induced slowing. Cerebral Cortex 29 (5), 1969-198312
DM Van Es & T Knapen (2019) Implicit and explicit learning in reactive and voluntary saccade adaptation. PloS one 14 (1), e02032482
DM van Es, J Theeuwes & T Knapen (2018) Spatial sampling in human visual cortex is modulated by both spatial and feature-based attention. Elife 7, e3692815

View full list of publications on Google Scholar