PhD position in audio-visual synchrony perception at TU Eindhoven

4-years PhD position in audio-visual synchrony perception at TU Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Within the framework of the EU funded Marie Skłodowska Curie Initial Training Network VRACE (Virtual Reality Audio for Cyber Environments) a 4-years PhD position is available in the Human-Technology Interaction group of the TU Eindhoven, The Netherlands, under the supervision of Armin Kohlrausch.

Applications are invited (and only possible) via the WEB portal of the TU/e. More detailed information on the position and details how to appply can found at:

Important: According to the eligibility rules of the EU, specific mobility requirements apply to this position, which are described in detail on the job site. Please check before applying whether you fulfill these requirements. 

The application deadline is April 15, 2019, start of the position preferably as soon as possible after the end of the selection process.

Meta-analysis of neuroimaging during passive music listening: Motor network contributions to timing perception

We often learn about what the brain is doing by observing what the body is doing when the brain is focused on a task. This is true for investigations into rhythmic timing perception. Many insights into timing have resulted from careful observation of sensorimotor synchronization with auditory rhythms. This draws from the works of Bruno Repp that suggest that perception of auditory rhythms relies on covert action—that synchronizing with a sequence is not so different than simply perceiving a sequence without moving along with it.

More specifically, in order to synchronize a finger-tap, or any other body movement, with an auditory stream, some timing prediction is necessary in order to perform all movement planning, effector assembly and execution in time with the auditory beat instead of several milliseconds too late. If we must plan for a synchronized movement in advance, and there is some automaticity to this planning when we listen to auditory rhythms, then it is reasonable to ask whether we also perform some degree of motor planning every time we perceive a rhythm even if we do not move any body part in time with it.

The evidence suggests we do use our motor systems, or at least that our motor systems are actively being used for some purpose while perceiving rhythms when we are not synchronizing. Brain images during rhythm perception experiments consistently show activation in areas of the brain that are known to be involved in movement of the body. These areas include primary motor cortex, premotor cortices, the basal ganglia, supplementary motor area, and cerebellum. Details about covert motor activity are still being investigated, but some theories suggest covert motor activity plays an essential role in rhythmic timing perception, a theory many music cognition researchers find intriguing.

But first, what does the neuroimaging literature actually say about which motor networks are active, and which rhythm perception tasks elicit this covert action? Each study uses musical stimuli that vary on a number of features, give different instructions to the subjects on how to attend to or experience the stimuli, and these differences induce varying emotional states, arousal, familiarity, attention and memory. However, across all this stimulus variability, motor networks still robustly present themselves as players in rhythm perception. Interestingly, the stimulus variability shows up less in whether we see covert action and more in which motor networks are covertly activated.

In a recent meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies on passive musical rhythm perception, Chelsea Gordon, Patrice Cobb and Ramesh Balasubramaniam (2018) asked which covert motor activations are most reliable and consistent across studies. They used the Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE; Turkeltaub et al., 2002), derived from peak activations in Talairach or MNI space, to compare coordinates across all PET and fMRI studies with passive music listening conditions in typically healthy human subjects. Their sample included 42 experiments that met the criteria for inclusion. As expected, the results of the ALE meta-analysis revealed clear and consistent covert motor activations in various regions during passive music listening. These activations were in premotor cortex (bilaterally), right primary motor cortex, and a region of left cerebellum. Premotor activation patterns could not be further localized to dorsal or ventral subregions of premotor cortex, but were dorsal, ventral or both dorsal and ventral. Right primary motor activations might have been excitatory or inhibitory, and were stronger in studies that asked subjects to anticipate later tapping to a beat in subsequent trials or to subvocalize humming. Most consistent across studies were premotor and left cerebellum activations, supporting predictive theories of covert motor activity during passive music listening.

One surprising aspect of these results is that the ALE meta-analysis did not find consistent activation in SMA, pre-SMA or the basal ganglia. The authors suggest that basal-ganglia-thalamocortical circuits may be specifically involved in subjects with musical training, or only in tasks with specific instructions to attend to the rhythmic timing of the stimuli instead of to listen passively.

An important concern Gordon and colleagues raised in the discussion is that of how publication bias contributes to ALE results. Also described by Acar et al. (2018), unpublished data deemed uninteresting can lead to biases in meta-analytic techniques (known as the file drawer problem), including in the ALE measure. Gordon et al. attempted to account for the file drawer problem by contacting all authors of the analyzed manuscripts to ask for the full datasets from each study to use in their ALE analysis. However, many authors did not provide this data for unreported brain activations, leading to limitations in number of explanatory contrasts that could be performed and a possible influence of publication bias on the ALE results.

The ALE technique is a powerful tool in performing large-scale neuroimaging study meta-analyses, but as with any meta-analysis technique of published results could be susceptible to the pitfalls of the file drawer problem. That being said, covert motor activity during passive music listening presents consistently across studies, even with considerable stimulus variability. This may support that timing prediction uses premotor and cerebellar networks.

Jessica M. Ross (


Gordon, C.L., Cobb, P.R., Balasubramaniam, R. (2018). Recruitment of the motor system during music listening: An ALE meta-analysis of fMRI data. PLoS ONE, 13(11), e0207213.


Acar, F., Seurinck, R., Eickhoff, S.B., Moerkerke, B. (2018). Assessing robustness against potential publication bias in Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analyses for fMRI. PLoS ONE, 13(11), e0208177.

Turkeltaub, P.E., Eden, G.F., Jones, K.M., & Zeffiro, T.A. (2002). Meta-analysis of the functional neuroanatomy of single-word reading: Method and validation. Neuroimage, 16, 765–780.

How humans compute estimates of sub-second visual duration

“Heron and colleagues sought to address the question of how humans compute estimates of sub-second visual duration. Historical attempts to answer this question have taken inspiration from the observation that different brain areas are functionally specialised for the processing of specific stimulus attributes such as spatial location. This led to the dominance of ‘dedicated’ models of duration perception: central, specialised mechanisms whose primary function is duration encoding.

Recently, these models have been challenged by the emergence of ‘distributed’ models which posit the localised encoding of duration alongside other, non-temporal stimulus features. This raises the possibility that some neurons might perform ‘double duty’ by (for example) encoding information about spatial location and temporal extent. However, given the potentially vast number of non-temporal stimulus features implicated, isolating those functionally tied to duration encoding represents a challenge.

Heron and colleagues attempted to quantify contributions to duration processing from three different strata within the visual processing hierarchy: monocular, depth-selective and depth-invariant. They began by isolating the duration information presented to left and right monocular channels. When this information induced duration aftereffects, strong aftereffects were also observed in the non-adapted eye. Nevertheless, a small but significant amount of adaptation did not show interocular transfer. Next, they used a novel class stimuli to present duration defined by the presence or absence of retinal disparity information. These stimuli allow the first demonstration of duration perception under conditions where stimuli are only visible to mechanisms that allow the integration of spatial information from both eyes.

They found robust duration aftereffects could be generated by viewing disparity-defined durations, revealing duration selective mechanisms entirely independent from monocular processing. Importantly, these aftereffects showed only partial selectivity for the visual the duration information’s depth plane. For example, adaptation to durations defined by crossed disparity information followed by testing with uncrossed disparity-defined stimuli produced aftereffects that were significantly greater than zero but significantly smaller than conditions were adapting and test durations were defined by the same type of retinal disparity.

Heron and colleagues findings provide clear support for duration selectivity at multiple stages of the visual hierarchy. They suggest that duration processing may have similarities with the well documented ‘serial cascade’ type processing documented in the spatial domain. In this scenario, downstream duration encoding mechanisms apply cumulative adaptation to effects inherited from their upstream counterparts.”

—-blog post by James Heron, University of Bradford

Source article:
Heron J, Fulcher C, Collins H, Whitaker D & Roach NW (2019). Adaptation reveals multi-stage coding of visual duration. Scientific Reports (9), Article number: 3016 (pdf)

Publisher’s link:

Research internship: Vocal learning and interactive communication in harbour seal pups

A 3-month Research Intern position is open for application at the
Sealcentre Pieterburen, The Netherlands. The successful candidate will
join the Seal Sounds team and actively perform bioacoustics research with newborn harbour seal pups (usually 1-3 weeks old) under the supervision of Dr. Andrea Ravignani ( The project will investigate how harbour seal pups time their calls interactively with conspecifics and learn sounds from each other, as part of a larger Belgian/EU project on pinniped communication. The candidate will receive training in pinniped behaviour, bioacoustics, experimental design, etc. Apart from hands-on research with the pups, depending on the interests of the candidate, there will be possibilities to work on other research projects, and help as an assistant seal nurse in the daily care of the pups.

Qualifications: Bachelor or Master degree in any of the following (or related) disciplines: Biology, Psychology, Zoology, Animal Behaviour, Marine Biology, Neurosciences, Psychobiology, Cognitive Sciences, Speech and Language Sciences, Sound engineering, etc.

Necessary skills: Crucially, the candidate must (1) have a working command of English, (2) be enthusiastic about research in animal behavior and communication, and (3) be willing to work hard. Previous experience with animals, audio recordings and/or playback experiments is not needed but appreciated.

Location & accommodation: The Sealcentre ( is located in Pieterburen, which is a small town in a natural area of the Netherlands. At any point in time, it hosts tens of international students, young volunteers, and veterinarians, all interested in seals. The university town of Groningen (200,000 inhabitants) is less than an hour away. If needed, cheap onsite accommodation with other students and volunteers can be arranged.

Financial matters: This is an unpaid internship.

Starting date: April, 28th, 2019.
Application deadline: February, 25th, 2019=20

How to apply: Applicants should send a brief cover letter (max 500 words =
explaining their reasons to apply) and a CV combined into a single PDF =
to Andrea Ravignani ( with the subject Research Internship Seal Sounds.

Andrea Ravignani
Research Dpt., Sealcentre Pieterburen
AI-Lab, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Fechner Day 2019

Dear friends and colleagues

I am very pleased to announce that Fechner Day 2019, the 35th annual meeting of the International Society for Psychophysics will be held at the Rixos Downtown Hotel in Antalya, Turkey, between November 2nd to 6th. The meeting is organised in collaboration with Dr. Evrim Gülbetekin and staff of the Department of Psychology at Akdeniz University, the Mediterranean University of Turkey. The slight change in date is due to a confluence of meetings at the time of the anniversary of the founding of psychophysics, and is organised to fall largely over the weekend to maximise opportunities to attend.

Location and Venue: Antalya

From Wikipedia: Antalya is a metropolitan area of some 2.2M inhabitants located in southern western Mediterranean region of Turkey. The city that is now Antalya was first settled around 200 BC by the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon, which was soon subdued by the Romans. Roman rule saw Antalya thrive, including the construction of several new monuments, such as Hadrian’s Gate, and the proliferation of neighbouring cities. The city has changed hands several times, including to the Seljuk Sultanate in 1207 and an expanding Ottoman Empire in 1391. Ottoman rule brought relative peace and stability for the next five hundred years. The city was transferred to Italian suzerainty in the aftermath of World War I, but was recaptured by a newly independent Turkey in the War of Independence.

Antalya is Turkey’s biggest international sea resort, located on the Turkish Riviera. Large-scale development and governmental funding has promoted tourism. A record 12.5 million tourists passed through the city in 2014.

In early November, the weather in Antalya is expected to be manly dry with an occasional shower, with temperatures in the 20-30 degree range.

Getting to Antalya: Antalya Airport (AYT) serves a number of low-cost carriers from major European, Russia, Ukraine and former Soviet Union territories, as well as Middle East hubs. Travel to Antalya should not be particularly expensive from Europe, although November is the end of the holiday season. Alternatively, Antalya is served by domestic airlines, particularly Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines Both carriers provide a frequent, cheap, comfortable and reliable service to Antalya from either Istanbul Atatürk or Sabiha Gökçen International Airports, the first of which is a major hub itself, due to operational range of Turkish Airlines.

Venue: the Rixos Downtown Antalya is a 5* hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel is 1 km from the Antalya Museum and 7 km from Konyaaltı Beach, although access to the sea is much closer.

The upscale rooms offer minibars, free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, plus balconies, sitting areas, and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Upgraded suites have separate living rooms, and some have whirlpool baths. Room service is available.

Amenities include Turkish and international restaurants, open-air dining and a cafe, plus 7 bars and regular live entertainment. There’s a high-end spa, a heated outdoor pool and a gym. Activities such as tennis, badminton, water sports are available.

See Registration, Accommodation and Conference Fees (below)

Preliminary Program Information


We are pleased to announce – provisionally – the following keynote speakers

Onur Güntürkün (Ruhr University Bochum)
Ruth Litovsky (U-W Madison)
Yoshitaka Nakajima (Kyushu University)
Canan Başar-Eroğlu (University of Bremen)
Jim Townsend (Indiana University)
Steve Link (UC San Diego)

Call for special sessions and free talks/posters

Our website should be up and running in the next week or so. But in the mean-time the following email addresses are active

  • Info:
  • Registration:
  • Submission:

Please direct proposals (200-300 word abstract alongside list of speakers and topics) for special theme sessions to the Submission email. Please add ‘Theme Session Proposal’ in the subject line of your email

For talks or posters, please send a 200 word abstract indicating your preference (Poster or Talk) to the Submissions email. Please add ‘Talk/Poster Proposal’ in the subject line of your email

For general information, please email ‘Info’ and for registration queries, ‘Registration’. Please refer to the information on Registration, Accommodation and Conference Fees given below:

Registration, Accommodation and Conference Fees

Registration will be open once the web site is up and running by mid February and I will revert to you then with details of how to register.

Accommodation we have negotiated special deal with the Rixos Downtown Hotel for 40 rooms, and we have 20 additional rooms in the university guest house (bed and breakfast) at a discounted rate for students. A free shuttle bus will transport from the guest house to the hotel and return (about 2 km). We will provide options to pay for either full-board or half-board accommodation at the hotel within the conference fee. Similarly, there is an option to pay for the university guest house within the discounted student conference fee. The first 40 fee-paying registrants covering accommodation will be allocated one of the discounted rooms at the Rixos Downtown, likewise for the first 20 fee-paying student registrants. There are also conference fees without accommodation included.

I hope, if we fill the 40 rooms, we can negotiate further rooms with the hotel at the rates below.

We have attempted to be flexible, but this doesn’t cover every possibility. If you want something different, email us at ‘Registration’
Conference Fees

All conference fees (in Euro) cover small items, proceedings volume, lunch and coffee breaks at the venue, as well as ISP membership fees of 90 Euro (full) and 35 Euro (discounted). Conference fees also cover the cost of the conference!

The conference dinner, planned to be held at the venue, will cost an additional 35 Euro.
The excursion, planned or the 6th November, will involve additional cost.

Single room – 4-nights single occupancy
Double Room – 4 nights double occupancy
Half Board – 4 days breakfast and lunch
Full Board – 4 days breakfast, lunch and dinner prepaid, plus unlimited drink allowance at the hotel bars.

Conference Fees:

Double-room registrant full-board: 629 Euro
Double-room registrant half-board: 563 Euro

Single-room registrant full-board: 567 Euro
Single-room registrant half-board: 503 Euro

Student registrant in University guest house: 224 Euro

Registrant without accommodation in the fee: 428 Euro
Student registrant without accommodation in the fee: 138 Euro


It is planned to offer the opportunity to visit local archaeological sites, and we will be back with further details.

With very best wishes and hoping to see you later in the year in Antalya


Dr. Mark A. Elliott
School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway
Galway, Republic of Ireland
T.: +353 (0091 495345
E.: mark.elliott – na –