University of Birmingham
Psychology Title



Research Projects

Theme Project Researchers Sponsor Dates

Visual attention Computational modelling of visual search V. Narbutas, D. Heinke EPSRC DTA 2013-

Bayesian hierarchical modelling of visual search Yishin Lin, D. Heinke, Glyn Humphreys 2011-2015

Choice reseaching task P. Woodgate, D. Heinke EPSRC DTA 2010-

Cognitive robotics approach to visual guided reaching in a multi-object environment S. Strauss, D. Heinke 2009-

Selective Attention for Identification model (SAIM) D. Heinke EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, EU 1997-

Inhibition of Return Y. Zhao, D. Heinke,   G. W. Humphreys School studentship, EPS-travel grant 2005-2014

Top-down modulation of visual search G. Anderson, D. Heinke, G. W. Humphreys +3 ESRC studentship 2005-2012

Computational model of human search over time and space E. Mavritsaki, D. Heinke, G. W. Humphreys, G. Deco BBSRC 2005-2012

Computational modelling of visual search with SAIM A. Backhaus, D. Heinke EPSRC 2003-2007

Processing of natural images with SAIM Y. Sun, A. Backhaus,  D. Heinke, G. W. Humphreys EPSRC 2003-2006

Visual Affordance Affordance and Awareness Shan Xu, D. Heinke, Glyn Humphreys Li Siguang studentship 2011-

and Neurorobotics approach to human reaching S. Strauss, D. Heinke, T. Trappenberg Dalhousie University 2013-

Visual-guidance of movements Computational modelling of interactions between visual attention and object affordances C. Boehme, D. Heinke EPSRC 2006-

Naming and Action – model (NAM) E. Y. Yoon, D. Heinke, G.W. Humphreys EU, MRC 1998-2002

Agent-based modeling Agent-based modeling Zahrieh Yousefi, D. Heinke, I. Apperly 2012-

Agent-based modelling in social psychology G. Carslaw, J. Christian, D. Heinke 1+3 ESRC-studentship, Bridging the gap-initative 2006-2013

Social cognition Spontaneous trait inference/transference Diana Orghian, Leonel Garcia-Marques, J. Uleman, D. Heinke Leonardo da Vinci program, University of Lisbon, New York University (NYU) 2011-

Top of page

Cognitive robotics approach to visual guided reaching in a multi-object environment
Soeren Strauss and Dietmar Heinke
Humans possess a highly efficient vision-action system in which reaching and grasping are important behaviours in interactions with the world, e.g. reaching for an object on a table. In a natural environment target objects are typically placed amongst multiple non-target objects(distractors). In order to successfully reach for a target object, the target needs to be attended and identified; distractors have to be ignored; and a movement towards the object has to be planned and executed. In this PhD a cognitive robotics approach will be taken to understand the mechanism behind these processes.

Top of page

Agent-based modelling in social psychology
Greg Carslaw, Julie Christian and Dietmar Heinke
Agent based modelling is a tool that has been successful in developing theories in a wide range of fields, but its application to social psychology is still in its infancy. This project applies the agent based modelling method to areas of social psychology including contact theory, group dynamics, altruistic behaviour and social identity theory.

Top of page

Computational modelling of interactions between visual attention and object affordances
Christoph Böhme and Dietmar Heinke
Recent experimental evidence highlighted the fact that attentional behaviour is also influenced by action-related factors, such as intentions and affordances of objects. The current project aims to model these findings with an extended version of SAIM called Selective Attention for Action model (SAAM). Central to SAAM is the ability to generate action parameters for objects in multiple-object scenes.

Top of page

Top-down modulation of visual attention
Giles Anderson, Dietmar Heinke and Glyn Humphreys
This research focuses on understanding the influence of prior information about target features in conjunction search through a cuing paradigm. At present we contrast colour cuing with the effect of orientation cuing. First results can be found here. Further research will examine cueing timeline and brain areas involved.
An A1 poster from the 2006 ECVP conference is available here.

Top of page

Perceptual influences on Inhibition of Return
Yuanyuan Zhao, Dietmar Heinke and Glyn Humphreys
Zhao and colleagues are investigating the facilitation and inhibition effect in the exogenous spatial cueing paradigms. Posner & Cohen (1984) found that an initial response to a peripheral visual stimulus (the target) is facilitated by a preceding briefly flashing stimulus (the cue) at a similar location. However, when time between the first stimulus and the second stimulus is increased, facilitation disappears and responses to the target are delayed. This inhibitory effect was termed inhibition of return (IOR). The current research is focused on how the perceptual factor of brightness influence IOR.

Top of page

Computational modelling of visual marking
Eirini Mavritsaki, Dietmar Heinke, Glyn Humphreys and Gustavo Deco
In the real world, visual information is selected over time as well es space. Watson and Humphreys (1997) developed a new experimental procedure which explores selection-over-time in the lab setting of a visual search task. They found that new information in search tasks is prioritised by active ignoring of old items - a process they termed visual marking. This projects aims to develop a first computational model of visual marking using a biologically plausible neural network (spiking neuron model with different synaptic components, such as NMDA, AMPA and GABA). In particular, it examines the involvement of the frequency adaptation current in visual marking.

Top of page

Computational modelling of visual search with SAIM
Andreas Backhaus and Dietmar Heinke
This project aimed to improve SAIM, so that it is able to simulate a broad range of experimental evidence from visual search tasks The following results were succesfully simulated: symmetric search (Egeth & Dagenback, 1991), asymmetric search (e.g., Treisman & Gormican, 1988), influence of distractor orientation (Foster & Westland, 1995), effects of priming (e.g. Mueller et al., 2003) and contextual cuing (Chun & Jiang, 1998). SAIM indicates that these effects result from competitive interactions modulated by three factors: similarity between targets and distractor, visual features of distractors (e.g. line orientation), feedback influence from identification stage on the selection process. Interestingly, SAIM explains the search assymetries as outcome of an stronger representation of vertical/horizontal lines compared to diagonal line detectors in the early visual cortex.

Top of page

Processing of natural images with SAIM
Yarou Sun, Andreas Backhaus, Dietmar Heinke and Glyn Humphreys
This project extended SAIM with biological plausible feature extraction, such as Gabor filters and HSV-colour space. With this extension SAIM proved able to to select and recognize objects in natural multiple-object colour scenes. Moreover, this new version still mimicked human data on visual search.

Top of page

Naming and Action – model (NAM)
Eun Young Yoon, Dietmar Heinke and Glyn Humphreys
NAM (Naming and Action Model) is a computational model of human gesturing and naming in response to visual objects and words.

Top of page