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Department of Psychology


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.

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.

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.


Key publications: 

Evidence for optimal integration of visual feature representations across saccades. Oostwoud Wijdenes L, Marshall L & Bays PM. Journal of Neuroscience 35(28): 10146-10153 (2015)

Noise in neural populations accounts for errors in working memory. Bays PM. Journal of Neuroscience 34(10): 3632-3645 (2014)

Changing concepts of working memory. Ma WJ, Husain M & Bays PM. Nature Neuroscience 17(3): 347-356 (2014)

Active inhibition and memory promote exploration and search of natural scenes. Bays PM & Husain M. Journal of Vision 12(8):8, 1-18 (2012)

The precision of visual working memory is set by allocation of a shared resource. Bays PM, Catalao RFG & Husain M. Journal of Vision 9(10): 7, 1-11 (2009)

Dynamic shifts of limited working memory resources in human vision. Bays PM & Husain M. Science 321: 851-854 (2008)

Perception of the consequences of self-action is temporally tuned and event driven. Bays PM, Wolpert DM & Flanagan JR. Current Biology 15: 1125-1128 (2005)

Two eyes for an eye: The neuroscience of force escalation. Shergill SS, Bays PM, Frith CD & Wolpert DM.  Science  301: 187 (2003)

Welcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Basic Biomedical Science
Affiliated Lecturer
Person keywords: 
visual cognition
Bayesian modelling
visual perception
Not available for consultancy