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General information

Name (center, department, group or other)
Center for Visual Cognition
Contact name
Thomas Habekost
Contact email
Contact title
Professor with special responsibities in Cognitive Neuropsychology, Deputy Head of Department
27. June 2015
(Last edited: 17. March 2017)

Brief description of research activities

The Center for Visual Cognition was founded by Professor Claus Bundesen in 1993 and is located at the Department of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen. It was a Centre of Excellence at the University of Copenhagen in 2008-2013, has housed three Sapere Aude projects, and is currently supported by several national and international grants. The research at the Center consists in experimental and theoretical studies of visual cognition, involving both healthy and clinical populations. The central framework for research at the unit is the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA), a mathematical model of visual recognition and selection that was proposed by Bundesen (Psychological Review 1990) and later developed into a neural model by Bundesen, Habekost & Kyllingsbæk (Psychological Review 2005). The TVA model is generally regarded as a world-leading account of visual attention processes.

One main line of research at the unit seeks to further develop TVA's mathematical modeling of elementary visual and attentional processes. A second, close related line of research applies the TVA model as a testing tool to study individual differences in attentional abilities. This approach has been widely used, both in Copenhagen and across Europe, to study neuropsychological deficits following stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, reading disorders, and neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD. The cognitive testing and modeling at the unit is often combined with neuroimaging methods (e.g., EEG, MRI) and interventions of both cognitive (e.g., meditation, cognitive training) and neurophysiological sort (e.g., pharmacology). Recent activities include the cross-disciplinary "Attention to Dopamine" project, which targets the brain's dopaminergic system across cognitive psychology, clinical psychiatry, and basic neuroscience (collaboration with Professor Ulrik Gether, Professor Birte Glenthøj and others). Supported by the Lundbeck Foundation, we are now continuing this project in collaboration with Professor Trevor Robbins, Cambridge. Another cross-disciplinary project is “Dynamical Systems”, which includes mathematical modeling of cognitive and neurophysiological processes (collaboration with Professor Susanne Ditlevsen and others).


visual attention, mathematical modeling, TVA, EEG, cognitive testing, neuropsychology, eye tracking, cognitive pharmacology, experimental psychology

Research tools and techniques

Experimental psychology
Neuropsychological testing
Eye tracking
Mathematical modeling

Scientific Personnel

No of Associate Professors/Postdocs: 6
No of PhD students: 9
Other: 1

Key references from within the last 5 years

Fitzpatrick, C., Caballero-Pulvinerio, M., Gether, U., Habekost, T., Bundesen, C., Vangkilde, S., Woldbye, D. P. D., Andreasen, J. T., & Petersen, A. (in press). Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) applied to mice in the 5-Choice Serial Reaction Time Task. Psychopharmacology, 234, 845-855.

Li, K., Kozyrev, V., Kyllingsbæk, S., Treue, S., Ditlevsen, S., & Bundesen, C. (2016). Neurons in primate visual cortex alternate between responses to multiple stimuli in their receptive field. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 10:141. DOI: 10.3389/fncom.2016.00141. (

Bundesen, C., Vangkilde, S. A., & Habekost, T. (2015). Components of visual bias: a multiplicative hypothesis. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 116-124. DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12665.

Habekost, T., Petersen, A., & Vangkilde, S. A. (2014). Testing attention: Comparing the ANT with TVA based assessment. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 81-94.

Habekost, T., Petersen, A., Behrmann, M., & Starrfelt, R. (2014). From word superiority to word inferiority: Visual processing of letters and words in pure alexia. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 31, 413-436.

Starrfelt, R., & Shallice, T. (2014). What's in a name? The characterization of pure alexia. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 31, 367-377.

Vangkilde, S., Petersen, A., & Bundesen, C. (2013). Temporal expectancy in the context of a theory of visual attention. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences. 20130054.

Petersen, A., Kyllingsbæk, S., & Bundesen, C. (2013). Attentional dwell times for targets and masks. Journal of Vision, 13, article 34.

Nordfang, M., Dyrholm, M., & Bundesen, C. (2012). Identifying top-down and bottom-up components of attentional weight by experimental analysis and computational modeling. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142, 510-535.

Vangkilde, S., Coull, J., & Bundesen, C. (2012). Great expectations: temporal expectation modulates perceptual processing speed. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 1183-1191.
Scherfigsvej 7
2100 Copenhagen Ø
Tel. +45 39 12 80 00
CVR-nr. 11 81 49 13
Nils Axelsen Ralf Hemmingsen Lauritz Holm-Nielsen Ralf Hemmingsen Jens Oddershede Jens Frederik Rehfeld Anders Bjørklund