Familiarity and Expectation in Visual Processing

Monday 17 October 2022, 16:30
PhD defence
Speaker or Ph. D. student
M.E. Manahova MSc.
prof. dr. F.P. de Lange
dr. E. Spaak
Faculty of Social Sciences, Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging

Many cognitive processes influence the way we perceive the world. In particular, forms of prior knowledge such as being familiar with an image or expecting to see an image can affect perception. This PhD thesis examined how familiarity and expectation modulate the neural signal in the human visual system. It discovered that the effects of familiarity and expectation appear to be additive, or similar in nature, since both types of prior knowledge contributed to an amplitude difference in the neural signal, and familiarity led to increased signal truncation. It also found that signal truncation is the highest for fast image presentation speeds and that it spreads laterally and anteriorly in the brain as the presentation speed gets slower. These results expand our understanding of the influence of prior knowledge on perception and the related brain activity.

Mariya Manahova was born in 1991 in Sofia, Bulgaria. She did her bachelor’s in the US at Bates College and studied psychology. Then she moved to Nijmegen for her master’s at the Radboud University and the Donders Graduate School. Afterwards she did research for her PhD together with Professor Floris de Lange.

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