Maria Olkkonen

Maria Olkkonen, PhD

Academy Research Fellow/Assistant professor (Durham)
Department of Psychology and Logopedics
Faculty of Medicine
University of Helsinki
Siltavuorenpenger 1A
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Address in Durham:
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. I was introduced to visual psychophysics during my studies at the University of Helsinki, where I was impressed by the elegance of the method, and the relative simplicity of the research questions in vision science compared to most 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 other information processing tasks. Still, it is unclear how the brain manages to construct a coherent representation of the visual world when the sensory input is ever-varying. In my research I concentrate on the question of whether and how prior knowledge about the world and expectations derived from this knowledge are employed while constructing visual representations. More specifically, I ask how stable color and object representations are formed in varying contexts, by using tools from psychophysics, computational modeling, and fMRI.

I am affiliated with the Psychology department at Durham University (North-East England), where I do research and teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses on perception and related topics, and with the Department of Psychology and Logopedics at the University of Helsinki, where I do research funded by the Academy of Finland. You can find more information on my general research interests page and on my CV (pdf).