Prof. Dr. Wittmann and Prof. Dr. Einhaeuser-Treyer

The interaction of visual and motivational salience in natural-scene perception

Planned research

Project B1 uses psychophysics, eye tracking, neuroimaging and pharmacological intervention to study the interaction of motivational and visual factors in guiding attention and learning about categories and rewards. Specific emphasis is given to naturalistic settings, both in terms of stimuli and tasks. B1 addresses the fundamental questions of how valuation flexibly guides perception and category formation and how perceptual and attentional mechanisms interact with value to optimize behavior. 

Current research

Project B1 investigates the bi-directional coupling between perception and valuation in natural scene processing. Part of the project aims at understanding the interplay between visual and motivational salience in guiding attention and thereby shaping perception. The other part focuses on the influence of visual salience on motivational learning and decision making. B1 addresses the fundamental questions of how valuation influences perception, how perceptual mechanisms shape the acquisition of motivational value, and how perceptual, attentional and motivational networks interact to adapt to an ever-changing environment.


new project-related publications
former project-related publications
't Hart B.M., Einhäuser W. (2012). Mind the step: complementary roles for eye-in-head and head-in-world orientation when negotiating a real-life path. Exp Brain Res, 223(2):233-249.
't Hart, B.M., Vockeroth, J., Schumann, F., Bartl, K., Schneider, E. & König P, Einhäuser W. (2009). Gaze allocation in natural stimuli: comparing free exploration to head-fixed viewing conditions. Visual Cognition, 17, 1132-1158.
Dal Mas, D. & Wittmann, B.C. (2017). Avoiding boredom: Caudate and insula activity reflects boredom-elicited purchase bias. Cortex, 92, 57-69. find paper
Dowiasch, S., Marx, S., Einhäuser, W., & Bremmer, F. (2015). Effects of aging on eye movements in the real world. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 9:46.DOI find paper
Düzel, E., Bunzeck, N., Guitart Masip, M., Wittmann, B., Schott, B.H., Tobler P.N. (2009). Functional imaging of the human dopaminergic midbrain. TiNS, 32:321-328
Einhäuser, W., & Nuthmann, A. (2016). Salient in space - salient in time: fixation probability predicts fixation duration during natural scene viewing. Journal of Vision, 16(11):13, 1–17. DOI find paper
Einhäuser, W., König, P. (2003). Does luminance-contrast contribute to a saliency map of overt visual attention? European Journal of Neuroscience, 17(5),1089-1097.
Einhäuser, W., Mundhenk, T.N., Baldi, P., Koch, C., & Itti, L. (2007). A bottom-up model of spatial attention predicts human error patterns in rapid scene recognition. Journal of Vision, 7(10),6.
Einhäuser, W., Rutishauser, U. & Koch, C. (2008). Task-demands can immediately reverse the effects of sensory-driven saliency in complex visual stimuli. Journal of Vision, 8,2.1-19.
Einhäuser, W., Spain, M. & Perona, P. (2008). Objects predict fixations better than early saliency. Journal of Vision. 8,18.1-26.
Kugler, G., 't Hart, B.M., Kohlbecher, S., Einhäuser, W., & Schneider, E. (2015a). Gaze in visual search is guided more efficiently by positive cues than by negative cues. PLoS One. 10(12): e0145910. find paper
Kugler, G., ’t Hart, B. M., Kohlbecher, S., Bartl, K., Schumann, F., Einhäuser , W., & Schneider, E. (2015b). Visual Search in the Real World: Color Vision Deficiency Affects Peripheral Guidance, but Leaves Foveal VerificationLargely Unaffected. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , 9, 680. find paper
Marx, S., Hansen-Goos, O., Thrun, M., & Einhäuser, W. (2014). Rapid serial processing of natural scenes: Color modulates detection but neither recognition nor the attentional blink. Journal of Vision 14(14):4.DOI find paper
Schomaker , J. & Wittmann , B.C. (2017). Memory Performance for Everyday Motivational and Neutral Objects is Dissociable from Attention. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 11, 121. DOI find paper
Schomaker, J., Rau, E..M., Einhäuser, W., & Wittmann, B.C. (2017). Motivational Objects in Natural Scenes (MONS): A database of >800 objects. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1669. find paper
Schomaker, J., Walper, D., Wittmann, B.C., & Einhäuser, W. (2017). Attention in natural scenes: Affective motivational factors guide gaze independently of visual salience. Vision Research. 133, 161-175. DOI find paper
Stoll, J., Thrun, M., Nuthmann, A., Einhäuser, W. (2015). Overt attention in natural scenes: objects dominate features. Vision Research. 107:36-48.DOI find paper
Wittmann , B. C., & D’Esposito, M. (2015). Levodopa administration modulates striatal processing of punishment-associated itemsin healthy participants. Psychopharmacology, 232(1), 135-144. find paper
Wittmann, B. C., Bunzeck, N., Dolan, R. J., and Duzel, E. (2007). Anticipation of novelty recruits reward system and hippocampus while promoting recollection. Neuroimage, 38:194-202.
Wittmann, B. C., Daw, N. D., Seymour, B., Dolan, R. J. (2008). Striatal activity underlies noveltybased choice in humans. Neuron, 58:967-973.
Wittmann, B. C., Schiltz, K., Boehler, C. N., Duzel, E. (2008). Mesolimbic interaction of emotional valence and reward improves memory formation. Neuropsychologia, 46:1000-1008.
Wittmann, B. C., Schott, B. H., Guderian, S., Frey, J. U., Heinze, H. J., Duzel, E. (2005). Rewardrelated FMRI activation of dopaminergic midbrain is associated with enhanced hippocampus-dependent long-term memory formation. Neuron, 45:459-467.
Wittmann, B.C., Dolan, R.J., Düzel, E. (2011). Behavioral specifications of reward-associated long-term memory enhancement in humans. Learn Mem 18:296-300.