Johan Wagemans Is born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1963. He holds a BA in psychology and philosophy, an MSc and a PhD in experimental psychology, all from the University of Leuven (K. U. Leuven), where he is currently a full professor. His research interests are visual perception, mainly in so-called mid-level vision (perceptual grouping, figure-ground organisation, depth and shape perception), but stretching out to low-level vision (contrast detection and discrimination) and high-level vision (object recognition and categorisation). In addition to fundamental research in these areas, using a variety of methodological approaches such as psychophysics, modelling and neuroimaging, he is also investigating applications in autism, arts and sports (www.gestaltrevision.be). He has authored or co-authored over 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature Neuroscience, Current Biology, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuroimage, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychological Review, Psychological Science, etc.
The general aim of my research program is to understand the processes and mechanisms of perceptual organization in the context of what we know about the dynamical and hierarchical way in which the brain functions. The phenomena have originally been studied in the context of Gestalt psychology, but since the rise and fall of Gestalt psychology, a lot of progress has been made in vision science in general, in terms of research methods, theoretical frameworks, and understanding of visual perception. Because further progress not only depends on the accumulation of empirical findings, but also on theoretical synthesis and reflection, I have decided to spend most of my stay in Paris on the writing of extensive reviews on the principles of perceptual organization, combining the traditional Gestalt psychological work with the more recent psychophysical, neural, and modelling work. Specifically, I have planned to work on two kinds of contributions: (1) a twin set of two edited handbooks devoted to perceptual organization (one computational and one more general), and (2) a monograph summarizing my own major findings and synthesizing them into a coherent theoretical framework. All of this should foster the re-integration of Gestalt psychology in mainstream vision science.