Research interests

I am interested in unraveling the mechanisms underlying the way we interact with our environment. The first stage in these mechanisms is of course on the input side, i.e. everything related to perceptual processes. Yet these processes have profound effects on our cognition, and both may be affected in similar or different ways in clinical populations.

Visual processes

During most of my scientific career I have been interested in how our visual system processes the available information into useful (and less useful) experiences. Topics include motion vision, binocular interactions, visual cue integration and contextual influences. Some recent papers on these topics are:

  • Stuit S.M., Paffen C.L.E., van der Smagt M.J. & Verstraten F.A.J. (2014). Image-Based Grouping during Binocular Rivalry Is Dictated by Eye-Of-Origin. PLoS ONE, 9(7): e95327. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095327
  • van der Smagt, M.J., Paffen, C.L.E. & Verstraten, F.A.J. (2010). Center-surround effects on perceived speed. Vision Research, 50, 1900-1904. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2010.06.012
  • Lorteije, J.A.M., van Wezel, R.J.A. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2008). Disentangling neural structures underlying the processing of high and low speed motion. European Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 2341-2353. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06193.x
  • Nijboer, T.C.W., Kanai, R., de Haan, E.H.F. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2008). Recognising the forest, but not the trees: the effect of colour on scene perception and recognition. Consciousness and Cognition, 17, 741-752. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2007.07.008

Sensory integration

Vision is of course but one of our senses. Most of the time we have to compare and integrate information from different senses. This is not a trivial task for our brain, given the different signal- and sensory properties, and yet this is achieved remarkably well. Some recent papers on these topics are:

  • Holten, V., van der Smagt, M.J., Donker, S.F. & Verstraten, F.A.J. (2014). Illusory Motion of the Motion Aftereffect Induces Postural Sway. Psychological Science, 25, 1831-1834. doi: 10.1177/0956797614540177
  • Holten, V., Donker, S.F., Verstraten, F.A.J. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2013). Decreasing perceived optic flow rigidity increases postural sway. Experimental Brain Research, 228, 117-129. doi: 10.1007/s00221-013-3543-z
  • Benjamins, J.S., van der Smagt, M.J. & Verstraten, F.A.J. (2008). Matching auditory and visual signals: is sensory modality just another feature? Perception, 37, 848-858. doi: 10.1068/p5783


Synesthesia can be seen as the ultimate sensory integration: Idiosyncratic integration of (visual) information with information not present in the stimulus. Which mechanisms underlie this phenomenon and how do synesthetic experiences compare to experiences resulting from 'real' stimuli? Some recent papers on these topics are:

  • Paffen, C.L.E., van der Smagt, M.J., & Nijboer, T.C.W. (2015). Cross-modal, bidirectional priming in grapheme-color synesthesia. Consciousness and Cognition, 33, 325-333. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.01.020
  • Nijboer, T.C.W., Gebuis, T., te Pas, S.F. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2011). Interactions between colour and synaesthetic colour: an effect of simultaneous colour contrast on synaesthetic colours. Vision Research, 51, 43-47. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2010.09.030
  • Gebuis, T., Nijboer, T.C.W. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2009). Multiple dimensions in bi-directional synesthesia. European Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 1703-1710. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06699.x

Perception versus Cognition

Our cognition influences our perception and vice versa. Sometimes cognitive abilities appear to have a perceptual origin. Our basic mathematical abilities, for instance, appear related to perceptual magnitude estimators. Some recent papers on these topics are:

  • Gebuis, T., & van der Smagt, M.J. (2011). False approximations of the approximate number system? PLoS ONE 6(10): e25405. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025405
  • Gebuis, T., & van der Smagt, M.J. (2011). Incongruence in congruency effects. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 73, 259-265. doi: 10.3758/s13414-010-0002-9
  • Gebuis, T., Kenemans, J.L., de Haan, E.H.F. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2010). Conflict processing of symbolic and non-symbolic numerosity. Neuropsychologia, 48, 394-401. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.09.027

Clinical perception

In specific clinical populations and/or cases, perception can be affected at different levels of processing. How this can be related to known symptoms and what these phenomena tell us about regular perception remains an intriguing area. Some recent papers on these topics are:

  • Nijboer, T.C.W., Nys, G.M.S., van der Smagt, M.J., van der Stigchel, S. & Dijkerman, H.C. (2011). Repetitive long-term prism adaptation permanently improves the detection of contralesional visual stimuli in a patient with chronic neglect. Cortex, 47, 734-740. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.07.003
  • Nijboer, T.C.W., te Pas, S.F. & van der Smagt, M.J. (2011). Detecting gradual visual changes in colour and brightness agnosia; a double dissociation. Neuroreport, 22, 175-180. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328343f593
  • van der Smagt, M.J., van Engeland, H. & Kemner, C. (2007). Brief Report: Can you see what is not there? Low-level audio-visual integration in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 2014-2019. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0346-0


Cognition influences our learning behaviour. I have recently become interested in which factors are predictive for (higher) educational success, and how we can use interactive instruments to enhance learning and increase educational performance. Papers on these topics are forthcoming.