CORDIS - EU research results

Seeing is predicting: Testing a predictive coding account of visual perception involving saccadic eye movements

Project description

Tracking eye movement, testing predictive coding

Our eyes are constantly moving, analysing and interpreting complex visual data. Every second, we make about three saccades – rapid eye movements designed to shift the fovea to objects of visual interest. This does not mean visual perception is unstable. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The EU-funded C-Pre project will determine whether predictive coding, which involves the transmission of prediction and prediction error signals across brain networks, can explain this. The project will trace these signals to measure and record brain activity along with eye-tracking experimental designs. The findings will advance cognitive sciences with their highly-innovative falsification attempt of an influential theory.


We make about three saccadic eye movements per second which bring about an abrupt and drastic change in visual input on the retina. However, visual perception seems remarkably stable. I want to determine whether this phenomenon can be explained by predictive coding. Crucial for predictive coding is the transmission of prediction and prediction error signals across brain networks. I want trace down these signals in humans with non-invasive neurophysiological and neuroimaging methods. I will record EEG and MEG data combined with eye-tracking in gaze-contingent experimental designs in which visual input changes during a saccade and in which the frequency of change is manipulate to affect higher-level trans-saccadic expectations. I will apply measures of information transfer and dynamic causal modelling to assess brain dynamics time-locked to saccadic eye-movements. This approach will provide evidence for or against pre-saccadic top-down prediction and post-saccadic bottom-up prediction error signals, which will eventually speak to the question whether predictive coding can explain the phenomenon of visual stability. The proposed action will strongly enhance my theoretical knowledge about predictive processes and it will widely extend my methodological skills about MEG, source analysis, and the analysis of brain dynamics and connectivity. The project will be conducted under the supervision of Floris de Lange at the Donders Institute, the Netherlands, and includes a secondment with Karl Friston and Rick Adams at UCL, UK, as well as cooperation with Stefano Panzeri from IIT, Italy. In sum, this project combines methods and approaches from an international set of world-leading experts in an unprecedented way to test a hypothesis derived from the currently most comprehensive theory of brain function. Therefore, this project will make a highly-innovative falsification attempt of an influential theory which could mean a crucial step in advancing the cognitive sciences.


Net EU contribution
€ 175 572,48
6525 XZ Nijmegen

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Oost-Nederland Gelderland Arnhem/Nijmegen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 175 572,48