A brief history
- My PhD thesis (Leiden, NL) was on the relationship between working memory and cognitive control. The idea was that impulse control does not work like some sort of brain-muscle, as is sometimes assumed, but rather that the degree to which one engages impulse control depends on how much the current situation reminds one of a previous one. For example, you’re more likely to restrain yourself from gorging on fast food if the present temptation (e.g. seeing a McD’s while hungry) is similar (another McD’s) rather than a dissimilar one (a Pizza Hut). Of course, I studied typical cognitive control tasks such as the Stroop task (I am BLUE) and Simon (says: ‘respond to the arrow’: [ <<–]) effect as opposed to fast food chains. Apparently, the few papers I authored on the subject of the modulation of the sequential conflict effect count as pioneering – surprisingly so, given the degree this MSCE fails to roll of the tongue.
- I held post-doc positions in Nottingham (UK) and Helsinki (Finland), studying rather different fields, but in general using EEG. In Nottingham, I was involved in motor control, studying the handedness and the relation between cortical areas using functional connectivity. At the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT (Finland), part of Aalto and Helsinki University, I explored the social neuroscience of touch and mediated interaction.
- As lecturer (assistant professor) in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University. Research-wise, I have mainly continued working in the field of executive control and social/affective neuroscience. There was also a lot of teaching.
- I returned to a research position in Finland at the University of Helsinki’s Departments of Computer Science and Psychology and Logopedics. At Computer Science, I work with machine learning and information retrieval experts to study mental imagery using EEG. At Psychology and Logopedics, I continue to do social/affective neuroscience and perception-action studies, in particular concerning time perception.
Ideomotor theory, which to William James meant the hypothesis that ‘every mental representation of a movement awakens to some degree the actual movement which is its object’, or in more modern interpretations, the idea that actions are produced by imagining the expected consequences. Essentially, this suggests actions are the consequence of expecting perception, much like perception is knowing the consequences of action (c.f. sensorimotor theory of perception). In other words, there is not as much difference between perception and action as you might expect, or indeed any, if you go along with the common coding theory of perception and action.
As such, my research has approached the theory from various angles:
- Executive and motor control tasks to reveal the interplay between memory, automaticity and voluntary control.
- Emotional face processing, effects of action-perception on experiencing social touch, and other topics in social affective neuroscience.
- Various priming tasks, for example to find out if a left-handed person is more easily, subliminally provoked to respond to the left.
- Object tracking tasks: to find out if we can track multiple visual objects across both perception and action.
- Rapid serial visual presentation / oddball paradigms: to test the attentional blink and relevance perception.
- Behavioral economics to quantify effects of touch and emotions on decision making.
- Psychophysics to quantify limits of time and touch perception.
- Interindividual covariation in biosignal data, e.g. people who communicate synchronise actions, emotions and brainwaves.
- EEG, in particularly good old-fashioned ERP research (top 3 potentials: P3, N2, N400), but also time/frequency analysis. I’m also writing a textbook so students may avoid my mistakes.
- Peripheral psychophysiology such as fEMG, EDA, ECG.
- Eye tracking: eye-movements, blinks, and pupil diameter can reveal interest and much more.
- Fun technology like virtual reality and haptic gloves to investigate how feeling (touch) and feeling (emotions) interact.