Research

Research in the Icelandic Vision Lab covers a wide field of topics. Here are some examples.

Development of Perception and Cognition

We are interested in the development of visual attentional mechanisms, self-regulation, and executive functioning. We are currently studying how visual attention spreads across the visual field, how visual search is organized, and how working memory is structured. By administer behavioral tasks to children and adults of all ages, we can map out how such abilities develop and change throughout the lifespan, as well as find out how they are connected to other aspects of cognitive functioning, such as self-regulation and executive functioning. This project is done in collaboration with Dr. Steinunn Gestsdóttir, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Iceland

People mainly involved in this project:

Árni Kristjánsson
Inga María Ólafsdóttir

Visual Imagery

„I used to be a hyperphant and had something like HSAM [Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory]. I had a stroke in 2017 which left me with memory impairment (including SDAM [Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory]) and aphantasia. I noticed immediately that my memories were gone and I knew something else was wrong, but it took a while to figure out that I’d lost my mind’s eye. It’s been devastating to me. I’ve lost my job and career, my sense of identity.“
– Anonymous, shared with permission

The person above has first-hand experience with two extremes of human imagination. Those with hyperphantasia have highly detailed and nearly photo-realistic visual imagery while those with aphantasia are unable to visualize at all – they have a blind mind‘s eye. We are interested in these extremes of human imagination and their relation to other cognitive abilities such as visual perception and visual memory.

People mainly involved in this project:

Heida Maria Sigurdardottir
Sandra Thorudottir

Neuroprosthetics

The Icelandic Vision Lab is working toward identifying potential benefits of neuroprosthetics involving intent control and sensory feedback, as well as their effects on the user. Further, the project aims to assess the relevance of current evaluation methods of lower-limb prostheses in the light of these new developments within the field and potentially develop new testing strategies to demonstrate their clinical benefits. The project is done in collaboration with Össur (supervision at Össur: Ásgeir Alexandersson, MD), the second largest prosthetics manufacturer in the world and a leader in research and development of advanced prosthetics.

People mainly involved in this project:

Árni Kristjánsson
Vigdís Vala Valgeirsdóttir

 

 

 

 

Synesthesia – Learning, Memory & Cognition

Synesthesia is a non-clinical condition in which people’s experiences of environmental stimuli elicit an automatic and consistent subjective experiences. The most common types of synesthesia are when a presentation of weekdays or months, letters, digits, or musical notes elicit a vivid experience of color, in the absence of any physical color stimulation. The experiences are often described as a sort of augmented reality, where normal perceptions are enriched with non-physical experiences of color, sounds, tastes or smells. With advances in cognitive neuroscience, synesthesia has captured the imagination of scientist interested in understanding the neuro-cognitive mechanisms underlying the peculiar phenomenon, and how this might affect behavior. The Icelandic Vision Lab has partnered with Dr. Thomas Alrik Sørensen, PI at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Aalborg University, to investigate how synesthetic associations are formed in brain, how they affect attention and memory, and how they are similar – as well as distinct from – visual and conceptual expertise. The research is supported by a grant from The Independent Research Fund Denmarkawarded to Dr. Sørensen. Readers interested in synesthesia, and those who may experience synesthesia can visit our website where they can fill out our survey, contact researchers for participation in the research or ask questions about the subject matter. 

Árni was interviewed on Icelandic Public Radio, Rás 1, about synesthesia and related research. Listen here (Icelandic; 16th April, 2018). 

People mainly involved in this project:

Árni Gunnar Ásgeirsson

 

 

Visual Factors in Dyslexia

Mounting evidence from our lab suggests that people with dyslexia have very specific problems with tasks that are thought to rely on the workings of high-level regions of the visual system. In a series of experiments, we are doing further studies on the role of visual factors in dyslexia, such as the role of fundamental visual properties, the type of visual processing, the role of experience, and the role of the number and complexity of visual objects. We are also putting the hypothesized deficient neural processing of high-level visual mechanisms in dyslexia to a direct test through the use of electroencephalography (EEG). Dr. Randi Starrfelt (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) is a member of a supervisory doctoral committee for this project.

People mainly involved in this project:

Sunneva L. Albertsdóttir
Unnur A. Ásgeirsdóttir
Hélène Devillez
Dýrleif Friðriksdóttir
Bahareh Jozranjbar
Árni Kristjánsson
Alec Shaw
Heida Maria Sigurdardottir

Visual Statistics

Some of our research involves the representations of statistical variation in artificial displays and natural scenes. Recent evidence from our lab shows that observers can have a remarkably detailed representation of the distributions of stimuli in the environment. This work combines the disciplines of summary statistics, visual attention and sequential dependencies and priming in vision in addressing how we represent featural variation in the visual environment.  The project involves behavioral studies, computational modeling, and neurophysiological studies. This project is done in collaboration with Dr. Andrey Chetverikov (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Netherlands) and Dr. Gianluca Campana (University of Padova, Italy).

People mainly involved in this project:

Sabrina Hansmann-Roth
Árni Kristjánsson
Mohsen Rafiei
Omer (Daglar) Tanrikulu