Ben gave a talk at Hamburg 


Ben followed an invitation by Brigitte Röder to present our work at University of Hamburg's Biological  Psychology and Neuropsychology seminar. He stood at the Alster, discussed exciting collaborations, learned about impressive projects in Brigitte's department and about the remarkable quality of Afghan cuisine.  


Max and Ben just published a core finding of Max's PhD in PNAS (yay!): Individual differences in how we look at faces generalize to inanimate objects. If you tend to look at the eye region and I tend to fixate the mouth, this is strongly correlated with a tendency to look higher up and lower down in all sorts of objects. Why is this interesting? The individual way we look at faces (and specifically the tendency to look at the eyes) has been studied a lot. Typically, it is discussed in relation to social cognition and associated problems. Our results suggest something else is at play here (too). The way you look at a burger, a waste bin or a cupboard is informative about how you tend to look at faces. This strongly suggests that individual face looking at least in part is shaped by more fundamental aspects of vision. We speculate that this is related to quirks of anatomy. People may place faces (and other objects) on their retina in ways that maximise the available processing power in their individual visual system. We are planning to follow up on this idea and excited to find out more! Check out the paper, code and data for more detail, or have a look at the press release and coverage bei Giessener Anzeiger, MDR, Tagesspiegel

Research visit by Alex Mitchell


Alex Mitchell works on temperature and pain perception in Francesca Fardo's group at Aarhus University, Denmark. This week she visits us to discuss the analyses of voxel-wise temperature tuning in BOLD responses and give a talk on her research into fascinating 'illusions of pain'. Welcome, Alex! 

A Million Points of View completed! 


Marcel and Ben collaborated with local science museum Mathematikum and its visitors to collect the world's largest dataset of individual gaze behaviour. Due to the overwhelming support and enthusiasm of the many children and adults participating, we could collect over 14,000 datasets! We are extremely grateful to Mathematikum and its visitors for their time, curiosity and the fun adventure this was for everybody involved. This unique dataset allows us to trace the development of gaze beahviour with unprecedented precision and a first publication is under peer review. We look forward to presenting our findings to the visitors of Mathematikum during our next evening lecture there - so stay tuned! For now, you may want to read the press coverage (German) of the great finale.

Ben gave a talk at Bilkent University


Ben was invited by Huseyin Boyaci to give a talk at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. There he learned about the exciting work of colleagues at UMRAM, the history and impressive size of Bilkent campus, the Anatolian roots of civilisation and the excellent taste of baked rice pudding. Thank you, Huseyin!   

Ben gave a lunch talk at ESI


Ben was invited to give a talk and have lunch with the wonderful Rademaker lab at the Ernst Strüngmann Institute, Frankfurt - which turned out to be a yummy combination!

Max wins Young Talent Communicator Award


Max has been awarded the Young Talent Communicator Prize of the Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior for his engagement with the media and young people interested in science. Congratulations, Max! 

CMBB day!


The Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior had a science-packed meeting, during which Ben gave a talk and Max received a price (see above).

Prof Ben!


Ben was appointed Prof for Experimental Psychology and Individual Perception at JLU.  Hooray for tenure! And for the most wonderful gift from the group - a book filled with our adventures and a most accurate cover designed by the amazingly talented Petra!

Diana slow-travels to ECVP 


Diana's trip to this year’s ECVP in Paphos, Cyprus, involved a mix of trains, buses, ferries, hikes and unforgettable adventures in Eastern Europe. While there are many benefits of in-person conferences, Diana is aware of the negative impact of conference travel on the climate and therefore discovered this slower way of traveling for herself. At the conference, she presented her findings on how individual gaze can predict scene descriptions, offering valuable insights into the perceptual consequences of gaze tendencies. Well done, Diana!


Humans are exceptionally quick to move their eyes towards faces. Previous studies typically have studied this showing isolated faces and control objects on a screen. Are faces prioritised in a similar way under more natural viewing conditions, e.g. when freely viewing a scene? This is hard to pin down because natural viewing is... well, natural. Eye movements towards faces in scenes cross a multitude of distances and angles, land on faces of different sizes, and start from objects with different low-level properties and at different times on trial.  Petra and Ben used a large free-viewing dataset to identify > 50.000 saccades towards faces and inanimate objects. This allowed them to statistically control for a plethora of confounding factors and test whether face-directed saccades are special under more natural viewing conditions. The answer was yes: Face-directed saccades of all shapes and sizes have higher peak velocities than object-directed ones. Interestingly, face-directed saccades are also preceded by shorter fixations - we rush to make a saccade when it will land on a face. However, this latter effect is limited to short saccades following the trajectory of the previous one, i.e. when we only have to hop on to land on a face - which is strikingly similar to a recent model of perisaccadic attention by Lisa Schwetlick and colleagues. We speculate that faces may be special to the saccade system in at least two ways, resting on independent mechanisms with different visual field coverage. For more, please check out the paper, data & code 

Welcome, Jonah!


We're overjoyed to welcome Jonah to the lab! Jonah is jointly supervised by Marcel and his partner and seems to be an avid explorer of sensorimotor contingencies, with unbounded curiosity in both, the visual and tactile domain. We are thus proud to call Jonah a colleague. He still has to learn about work-life balance, though. Rumour has it that his studies can last until the wee hours!   

Petra gave a talk at at Cluj


Petra gave an invited talk on individual gaze and neural representations at the  meeting of the COST on The neural architecture of consciousness in Cluj, Romania. 


Marcel and Ben collaborated with Özlem Sensoy and Gudrun Schwarzer to compare the scene-viewing behaviour of 5-year-old children to that of adults. They found that preschool children fixate text elements a lot less and instead are drawn towards hands and the things we do with them, which matches recent findings on the development of neural tuning in the visual brain. For more, please check out the SciRep paper, data & code 

Ben gave a talk at LISCO


Ben gave a talk on individual perception at the Lifespan Cognitive and Brain Development lab at Goethe University, Frankfurt. Thank you, Yee Lee Shing for the invitation!

Marcel wins Dr. Herbert Stolzenberg Prize!


Marcel will be awarded the Dr. Herbert Stolzenberg Prize of the Giessen Graduate Center for Natural Sciences and Psychology (GGN) for his work on individual gaze. The ceremony will take place during the GGN's Opening Event on July 3, 3pm. Marcel will give a presentation of his work - so don't miss out! 

Research Workshop in the Dolomites


The whole lab had a wonderful time at a research workshop close to Pale di San Martino. We got exciting input on individual perception and gaze behavior from our fantastic guest speakers Miriam Celli (Padova Neuroscience Center)  and Nitzan Guy (Hebrew University Jerusalem); conceived and designed new experiments; spent time in the mountains; and enjoyed the remarkable talents of our chef Max!    


Marcel and Ben will give another talk about our research on individual eye movements and perception at Mathematikum. The talk aims at a general audience, admission is free and everybody welcome! If you're interested, come to Mathematikum, May 2nd, 7pm.    

Welcome, Yeliz!


Yeliz Dinç is an Erasmus+ student visiting the lab for three months before completing her MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Padova. She is very interested in the cognitive neuroscience of perception and would like to learn more about neuroimaging and programming. Welcome, Yeliz! 


Which parts of the face inform us about the feelings and traits of others? A little while ago, Max and Ben prepared face stimuli for an (unrelated) experiment and made the fun observation that nose regions are surprisingly informative. Max and Ben could confirm this in an online sample and just published the quirky finding in iPerception. For more, check out the paper, data & code, or the university's press release (german). 


The Center for Mind Brain and Behavior commissioned a video on Marcel and Ben's public eyetracking experiment at Mathematikum. We think it's the nicest one yet - go check it out on YouTube!  


Hessen schafft Wissen published a funky-looking animation on our research - check it out on YouTube!  


Faces can evoke rapid saccades that are hard to supress. Max, Theresa and Ben found that this effect generalizes to upper halves of faces. Interestingly, this seems specific: Lower halves of faces do not evoke rapid saccades, neither do artificial, face-associated stimuli like glasses and masks. For details, check out their paper, data & code!  

Firey February


We just about recovered from Diana's Active Advent (and the ensuing chocolate overcompensation during the holidays). So now it's Marcel's turn to challenge us - and he hasn't held back!

Welcome, Marek!


Marek Pędziwiatr is a postdoc from Isabelle Mareschal's lab at Queen Mary University of London and visiting the Indivisual lab for a two-months research stay. Marek will test whether individual differences in gaze can be probed without eyetracking - which would make large scale data collection a lot easier. Welcome, Marek!

Acitve Advent


'Tis the season... for planks. Most of what we do is desk work, but all members of the lab like to move. Diana had the fantastic idea of challenging us with a very active Advent calendar (see to the left).     


Marcel and Ben will give a talk about our research on individual eye movements and perception at Mathematikum. The talk aims at a general audience admission is free and everyone welcome! If you're interested, come to Mathematikum, Nov 23, 7pm.    

Ben @ Bournemoth


Ben gave a zoom talk on face perception at Bournemoth University, following an invitation by Matteo Toscani.  


Max and Ben found that inter-individual differences in the tendency to fixate the head vs. body region of people generalise from images to videos. For details, check out their paper, data & code!  


Max and Ben found consistent inter-individual differences in the way we fixate people in images. This study also comes with over 6.000 hand-drawn pixel masks for body parts in natural scenes, which you can download for free.  For details, check out their paper, data & code!  


Susanne Stoll teamed up with Ben, Elisa Infanti and Sam Schwarzkopf to elaborate on the type of pitfalls that have led to Ben's retraction of a population receptive field (pRF) paper. If you want to learn about regression to the mean, egression from the mean, the effects of cross-thresholding and all the other reasons you shouldn't use the same data for defining inclusion criteria and testing hypotheses - check out the paper, data & code!  


Marcel, Max, Tamara (former RA) and Ben teamed up with Meike Ramon to study the gaze behavior of so-called Super Recognizers - individuals who are extremely good at face recognition. Their study showed that Super Recognisers not only tend to look more at faces in scenes, they also do so in a specific way. Compared to controls, Super Recognisers fixate closer to a point just below the eyes, which has previously been identified  as the ideal fixation location for extracting discriminable information from a face. If this sounds interesting to you, please check out the paper, code and data.  

Marcel wins Young Talent Communicator Award


Marcel has been awarded the Young Talent Communicator Prize of the Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior for his eyetracking booth at Mathematikum, combining research and science communication in a unique way. Check out JLU's press release for details (german). Congratulations, Marcel! 

Welcome, Tasfia!


Tasfia Ahsan is a PhD student from York University (Toronto, Ca) and visits the Indivisual lab for a one-month research stay. In her work with supervisor Erez Freud, she found that illusory depth can modulate perceptual precision. During her time in Giessen, Tasfia would like to find out whether this effect is mediated by eye movements. Welcome, Tasfia!

VSS 2022


The lab had a fantastic experience at their first in-person conference at VSS 2022. We saw dolphins, talks and posters and met vision scientists from all over the world. If you signed up for downloading one of our posters, you're at the right place. Here's 

Diana's poster showing that Learned interpretations of ambiguous drawings affect response times in a familiar-size Stroop task

Petra's poster asking Does individual gaze lead to individual visual representations?,  

Marcel's poster on Using observer similarity matrices to understand individual differences in gaze behaviour towards objects in complex scenes and 

Max's poster on The relation between individual fixation biases towards faces and inanimate objects. 


Diana just published her first paper on The influence of familiarity on memory for faces and mask wearing in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. Diana found that it's harder to remember the occurence of faces if they wear a mask and if they are unfamiliar. It's also harder to remember whether an unfamiliar face wore a mask or not. These findings suggest a memory bottleneck for contact tracing, which is more severe when people don't know each other well. As usual, you can find the data and code online, including familiarity ratings and masked versions for the Celebrities in Frontal Profile (CFP) data set. Congratulations Diana!


Marcel's public eyetracking experiment at mathematikum, was featured by regional TV station Sat.1 Hessen. You can watch the feature here (german).   


Diana (Kollenda) won the 1st prize of this years TeaP poster competition! Her poster on 'Seeing it differently: The AmbigObj stimulus-set depicting ambiguous drawings of small-large and animate-inanimate object pairs' presents a new stimulus set of ambiguous shapes, which Diana produced, validated and used for a first study with intriguing results. We're immensely proud of Diana's creativity, cleverness, dedication and success! Check out Diana's poster for more.  


As part of his PhD, Marcel works towards the ambitious goal of collecting a massive benchmark sample of individual gaze behavior during free viewing.  He and Ben teamed up with mathematikum, a popular science museum in Giessen to developed an interactive exhibit. This enables visitors to take part in a real experiment and learn about gaze in a unique way. The 'eyetracking booth' was officially opened today and already attracted over 500 participants during the preceeding pilot stage (hooray!). You can read more about the project in the press release or this newspaper article (german).   


The DFG decided to fund the third period of the CRC Cardinal Mechanisms of Perception.  Ben and Katha Dobs will lead the new project on Factors shaping categorical face processing. Ben is also co-PI on the INF project for code and data sharing. Hooray! 


Erez Freud kindly invited Ben to present our work at the Centre for Vision Research at York University, Canada. You can watch the talk on YouTube


Ben is very grateful to Sharon Gilaie-Dotan for inviting him to be a speaker on the Bar Ilan Vision Science Seminar - alongside some of his scientific heroes! The talk and discussion were much fun and you can check them out on YouTube


Ben, Max and Marcel (including his brain!) were visited by Science Reporter Maurice Kontz, who interviewed Ben for Hessen schafft You can follow their conversation on individual perception, eyemovements and brain imaging on YouTube (German).


Ben was kindly invited by Arezoo Pooresmaeili to present our work on individual perception at the European Neuroscience Institute, Göttingen, Germany.


It's grant reaping season! The HMWK decided to fund The adaptive mind. TAM brings together researchers from Experimental Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Artificial Intelligence from several universitites. We aim to understand how the human mind successfully adapts to changing conditions, and what happens when these adaptive processes fail. Ben is co-PI on projects on sensory processing in ASD and overgeneralization in persisting fear, as well as the project-wide Data Hub.  


One of the main strategies in the fight against CoViD-19 is Test and Trace. Data scientists have highlighted a main challenge to this approach: Classic contact tracing may be too slow to keep up with the infection dynamics of CoViD-19. However, there is an additional challenge, which is less well understood. For accurate reporting, interviewees have to remember all their contacts, sometimes going as far back as two weeks. What is the memory bottleneck for contact tracing? Ben and Max have developed a study idea to find out, which just received funding from the DFG.


ABC journalist Natasha Mitchell interviewed Ben, Susanne Stoll and Alan Love on the role of failures in Science for her Science Friction podcast.  

Ben gave a talk at the University of London


Bahador Bahrami kindly invited Ben to present our work on What are you looking at?  at the Institute of Philosophy, which is part of the University of London's School of Advanced Study.


Diana (Weissleder, can't have enough Dianas!) wrote a very cogent explanation of her BSc thesis for Bahador Bahrami's blog. Diana worked with Max and Ben to test whether friends show more similar gaze behavior than strangers. Check out her blog post! 


Susanne Stoll tried to replicate methods from one of Ben's PhD papers and discovered a potential flaw in the analysis. Ben went back to the old data, confirmed the problem and retracted his original publication (retraction notice). He and some of his colleagues joined Susanne in an effort to explain the (surprisingly complicated) problem in a technical paper (preprint), so that others won't have to repeat his mistake. Sam Schwarzkopf wrote a blog post about the ordeal, Retraction Watch featured it as 'doing the right thing' and Ben shared his thoughts on curiosity and correcting our errors in an invited commentary in Nature.  

Max gave a talk at Fribourg


Max presented his work on Intra- and interindividual differences in person perception at the AFC Lab Talk Series hosted by Meike Ramon (University of Fribourg).  

Ben gave a talk at Stanford


Ben presented our work on 'Where' in the ventral stream at the Stanford Vision Brunch.

Marcel gave a talk at Fribourg


Marcel presented his work on Evidence for atypical semantic visual salience in Super Recognizers  at AFC Lab Talk Series hosted by Meike Ramon (Univeristy of Fribourg)

Ben gave a talk at Berkeley


The gods of Zoom provide us with the opportunity to present our work afar, despite the distance and the virus. Ben kicked off with a talk on 'Where' in the ventral stream at the Neuroimaging Seminar Series hosted by Sonia Bishop's lab at UC Berkeley.


Marcel used the OSIE dataset to develop a short test of gaze behaviour and found that some dimensions of individual gaze biases can be estimated from less than 5 minutes worth of eyetracking data. This will help us and other researchers to probe individual gaze in a much more time-efficient manner, which is especially important for research involving children and other vulnerable individuals. Marcel published this as his very first paper, which just appeared in Journal of Vision. Congrats, Marcel! Also, special thanks to Dr. Stefanie Mueller and the ZPID PsychLab offline for collecting the validation data. The paper, code and data are all open access, so go ahead and use it =)  

We're online!


the group homepage is live - welcome to =)

JLU Award for Ben


Ben received the Justus Liebig University Giessen Award  for his research on individual perception.

INDIVISUAL funded by the ERC!


Ben received a 1.5M€ starting grant from the European Research Council to start a lab on individual perception at JLU (press release and newspaper article in german). Hooray!


The PNAS podcast featured Ben and his findings on individual differences in gaze behaviour 


Our paper on individual differences in gaze behaviour was covered by inside science and MDR (german public radio). Also see our press release here (german).