Maria Olkkonen

Maria Olkkonen, PhD

University researcher
Department of Psychology and Logopedics
Faculty of Medicine
University of Helsinki
Haartmaninkatu 3
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Assistant professor
Department of Psychology
Durham University
South Road
Durham, UK

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© Toni Saarela 

Visual perception is effortless and seemingly automatic, and yet it's a complicated information processing task for the brain due to the inherent ambiguity of incoming sensory information. I was introduced to visual psychophysics during my studies at the University of Helsinki, where I was impressed by the elegance and rigor of the method, and the seeming simplicity of the research questions in visual perception compared to many other areas of psychology. Indeed, studying vision is an excellent way to understand how the brain works, as the basic physiology and anatomy underlying vision are better-characterized than for many other information processing tasks. Even after a long research program in visual neuroscience, however, we still do not understand how the brain constructs a stable and coherent representation of the visual world in the face of incidental variation in the sensory input, as well as internal noise. My research is focused on understanding how stable percepts are constructed in the domain of color and material perception by employing tools from psychophysics, fMRI, and computational modeling.

I am affiliated with the Psychology department at Durham University (in the lovely North-East England), and with the Department of Psychology and Logopedics at the University of Helsinki in Finland. In Durham, I conduct research and teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses on perception and cognitive neuroscience. I am also the director of the Centre of Vision and Visual Cognition, and co-director of the Durham Centre for Imaging. In Helsinki, I have my own lab funded by the Academy of Finland and the Faculty of Medicine. You can find more information on my general research interests page and on my CV (pdf).