Cognitive processes, such as those involved in perception, memory and decision making, are highly context dependent. Previous experiences, expectations, and goals all shape how sensory input is transformed into percepts, how memories are stored and retrieved and how available information is evaluated to guide behavior. This feature of human information processing is fascinatingly pervasive and can be easily experienced, especially in cases when it leads to errors. For example, it is often difficult to identify a familiar face outside of its usual context ("the butcher on the bus" phenomenon) and the the erroneous repetition of written words often goes unnoticed ("repetition blindness"; an example is embedded in this very sentence).
Despite leading to errors in some cases, the integration of context with current processing is integral to cognition because it constitutes the foundation for learning and adaptive behavior. My research investigates how context shapes human information processing. To this end I measure accuracy and speed of overt behavior as well as activity in the human brain as assessed with tools such as electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and direct recordings from electrodes that are implanted in the brains of neurosurgery patients. A particular emphasis of my work is on the development of precise theoretical accounts (mathematical models) of cognitive processes that are informed and constrained by measured overt behavior and brain activity.