How do we perceive the world?

Perception is not a passive process of registering the world.
Rather, the brain can make use of prior knowledge to actively predict possible future states.
This can help to make sense of the incoming sensory signals and make quick and accurate decisions.
The Predictive Brain Lab sets out to understand how our brain uses prior knowledge to aid perception and decision-making processes.

Anticipation of future events

We showed that early visual cortex performs pattern completion by recreating a stimulus sequence after only a subset of the visual sequence is provided. Interestingly, this ‘pre-played’ sequence was temporally faster compared to the actual sequence and linked to behavioral performance during perception.

Layered fMRI reveals feedforward and feedback processing

Ultra-high resolution fMRI allows for functional data to be acquired from separate cortical layers. Using knowledge of the layer-specific terminations of feedforward and feedback connections in visual cortex, we use this to separate top-down from bottom-up visual responses. For example, increased fMRI responses to an illusory shape stimulus from top-down feedback are only found in the deep layers of V1.

Expectations enhance perception

Here, we combined human magnetoencephalography (MEG) with multivariate decoding techniques to resolve the timing of neural signals induced by expectations. We found that, when auditory cues induced the expectation of a grating of a particular orientation, this evoked a neural template of the expected grating already before the grating was presented. These results suggest a mechanism by which the brain predicts future sensory stimuli in order to enhance perception.

Latest news

Three defenses in three months

We are proud to say that these past three months three of our lab members received the honour of getting a doctorate degree. Erik te Woerd defended his topic: 'Feeling the beat' on the neurophysiology of cueing in Parkinson's disease. Next up was Pim...

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Two Marie Curie grants!

The predictive brain lab is happy to announce that both a current member, Alexandra Vlassova, and a member-to-be, Christoph Huber-Huber, have received a Marie Curie grant to execute their postdoctoral research within our lab. Alya Vlassova will be probing the drive of...

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Paper published in Cognition

Our perception of the world often deviates from reality and these deviations can be easily experienced with powerful visual illusions, such as the Müller-Lyer illusion above. The upper line appears to be shorter than the lower line, even though the lines have the...

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How to get to the lab

Donders Institute


Floris de Lange, PhD
Donders Institute (Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging), Room 01.117
Kapittelweg 29
P.O. Box 9101
NL – 6500 HB Nijmegen
the Netherlands

Phone: +31 24 36 10658
Fax: +31 24 36 10989