Prettier plots in Matlab

Rather than prettifying all plots in Illustrator, I prefer doing as much as possible already in Matlab. Chances that you’ll have to regenerate the figures at some point (because you decide to change one step somewhere in your analysis pipeline, say…), and by scripting the plots as much as possible you can replace your pdfs with an updated one with just one click.

Here, I’ll make an overview of several types of plots I use a lot, and my strategies for making them look good. Some final touches in Illustrator might not be possible to avoid, but this should get you quite far. Continue reading

New paper: conscious vision proceeds from global to local

Campana F, Rebello I, Urai AE, Wyart V & Tallon-Baudry C. (2016) Visual consciousness proceeds from global to local content in goal-directed tasks and spontaneous vision. Journal of Neuroscience 36(19).

During my MSc at the ENS in Paris, I did my internship in the laboratory of Dr. Catherine Tallon-Baudry, where I worked on a project about the hierarchical nature of conscious perception. This project, led by Dr. Florence Campana, aimed to experimentally address several predictions made by the Reverse Hierarchy Theory (Hochstein & Ahissar, 2002). Continue reading

NVP best poster prize

At the Dutch Society for Psychonomics conference (NVP), which takes place every other year in beautiful beach-side Egmond aan Zee, I won the best poster prize for my work Pupil dilation signals decision uncertainty and predicts response alternation.

Since I didn’t take any photos at NVP, here’s me presenting the study at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago earlier this year.

DonnerLab now on Twitter

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years now, and I find it to be a great addition to my usual diet of journal-specific rss feeds and PubMed keyword alerts for keeping up with the literature. I’ve also connected with many people in my field, joined the #PLOS #SfN15 twitter team and even got invited to speak at a symposium. See also this great post by Dorothy Bishop introducing Twitter for academics, and another post by Micah Allen asking how useful Twitter is in getting articles read by colleagues.

I’ve now also convinced my lab of the powers of social media, and our twitter account has gone live this week. We will also soon announce our new lab website, that should go live in the beginning of the new year. So yes, you know you want to click these buttons and keep track of what we’re up to!


We’re off to a good start with some great promo:

Matlab-based IPython notebooks

21 February 2018, update: the new JupyterLab was just released, and according to this tweet is really easy to integrate with Matlab. Probably worth checking out instead of the reasonably outdated instructions below!

I really like Python’s philosophy, but over the last years I haven’t been able to switch the code for my research from Matlab. At this point, the transition costs are too high for me, but it’s a move I have planned for some point in the future.

Now, Python has the awesome Jupyter (formerly IPyton notebook) feature, that allows for comments, code, and most importantly graphical output (i.e. figures you’ve just generated) to be shown in one document. This is a great way to share and explain the code you’re writing, since the reader immediately sees how output is generated without having to run all the analyses themselves.

Continue reading

Decision-making in ten minutes

During the Montenegrin Open Science Days in 2014, I gave a short talk on models and neural bases of decision-making. A video of the talk is now online, so check it out if you’re interested in a crash course on how psychologists and neuroscientists think about the process of decision-making. If you’re interested in the slides, don’t hesitate to get in touch. And while you’re at it, check out the other talks by Nuno, Elena, Merina and Nikola!

Talking to Torsten Wiesel: lessons in science

Perhaps the highlight of the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting for me was meeting Torsten Wiesel who, together with David Hubel won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for their discoveries on the response properties of neurons in early visual cortex. Wiesel gave a talk in which he gave an overview of his work with Hubel. There wasn’t much time left for discussion that afternoon, but Jolien and I had the chance to talk to him in person the day after, on a very sunny terrace overlooking for Bodensee. Here’s some of the lessons I took from our conversation. Tip of the day: a short email requesting a meeting can really make your week.

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Peeking over the shoulders of giants

I spent last week in Lindau, at the beautiful Bodensee in the south of Germany. I had the honour to be one of 600 young scientists invited to the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Physiology or Medicine, a fantastic chance to meet 37 Nobel Laureates in the field and get a huge boost of inspiration and enthusiasm for doing science. The week was too full for a complete overview, so I’ll restrict this post to my personal highlights of the week. If you feel jealous that you didn’t know about this meeting or had to miss out, don’t panic; the Lindau Mediatheque collects video recordings of most talks.

In 1951, two German physicians convinced the count of Lindau to start inviting Nobel Laureates and students to their island for a week of discussions and talks. The main goal of these first meetings was to rebuild German science and strengthen international collaborations which had suffered during the war. During the 64th meeting this year, the focus on Germany is long gone. Young scientists from 80 countries, working in fields from psychology to physics and oceanography to stem-cell biology, came to Lindau to meet 37 Laureates in Physiology or Medecine (although some won their prize in chemistry and physics). The Laureates were the big stars of the meeting, and rightly so – the brightest minds should in my opinion be honoured like all football players and pop singers of this world together. Continue reading