Research
Photo of two birds overlaid with a typical set of eye movements
Our perception is of a seamless visual world, but in reality a sharp image is available only at the very centre of gaze. Accurately planned eye movements are vital to explore our visual environment.

Why do we make errors in perception, in memory, and in our actions? Variability and uncertainty are fundamental aspects of human behaviour, which worsen with advancing age or neurological disease. In the lab we measure these factors using visual psychophysics and memory tasks, eye tracking, limb motion-tracking and force feedback. Then, using mathematical models and computer simulations, we develop and test hypotheses about the underlying brain mechanisms.

Recent research in the lab focuses on visual memory and eye movements. Our ability to remember what we have seen is surprisingly limited: we investigate how this limited resource of visual memory is distributed between features of the visual scene and how it is updated when we move our eyes.

Plots of movement paths showing increasing scatter from left to right
Reaching movements to a remembered target. Increasing the number of locations held in memory at one time (from left to right; other targets not shown) results in increasing variability in recall.
In everyday life, we shift our gaze several times per second in order to extract detailed information from the world around us: a second focus of our research is to understand the processes that decide where and in what order these eye movements are directed, and how they become disrupted in neurological disease.
Supported by Wellcome Trust

While cognitive functions such as attention and memory are often studied from a perceptual viewpoint, they are also critical for our ability to control movement and physically interact with our surroundings. Some of the newest research in our group investigates the role of these sensory functions in the skilled control of arm and hand movements.

News

March 2014
New article in Journal of Neuroscience [pdf]: errors in short-term memory are explained by noise in neural activity

February 2014
Review paper on changing concepts of working memory [pdf] in Nature Neuroscience

September 2013
Paul Bays visiting UC Berkeley, Institute of Cognitive & Brain Sciences during 2013/14

July 2013
Leonie Oostwoud Wijdenes joins the lab from Jeroen Smeets' group in Amsterdam

May 2013
Paul Bays at the Vision Sciences Society meeting in Naples, Florida

August 2012
New article in Journal of Vision [pdf] investigates the role of memory in selecting eye movements in natural vision)

July 2012
Louise Marshall to join UCL's PhD programme in Clinical Neurosciences