Peter de Weerd (P.H.M.)
Peter De Weerd's work is focused on neural operations in early sensory systems and how they are modified by attention and experience (skill learning). His work starts from psychophysical experiments in humans testing the mechanisms of perception, attention, and learning, which are then explored in human experiments (using fMRI or more recently also MEG), or in animal models (using neurophysiology and molecular approaches) for specific fundamental questions that cannot be answered via human research. Current foci of interest include the contributions of feedforward and feedback connections to attention and learning, the molecular mechanisms of long-term changes in sensory cortex, the contributions of attention and mere (unconscious) exposure to long-term changes, the stability of long-term modifications (consolidation, reactivation, reconsolidation, interference, etc.), the role of microsaccades in perception, attention, and learning, and the contributions of oscillatory responses (gamma and their nesting in lower frequency bands) to these cognitive functions.
Professional career history
Peter De Weerd studied psychology at the Catholic University of Louvain (1980-1985), where he got his PhD in 1991. He then received a Long-term International HFSP Fellowship (1991) and the Louvain Collen award (1991), which allowed him to start postdoctoral research at the National Institute of Health (NIH), USA, where he then became a Visiting Associate, and where he worked under supervision of Dr. Ungerleider and Dr. Desimone.
In 1998 he moved to the University of Arizona, USA, where he became assistant professor, and received an RO1 grant. In 2003, he moved to Maastricht University where he was awarded an NWO VICI grant and where he first was Associate Professor and then received an endowed chair professorship. At the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, he has been Scientific Director (2006-2010), and Director of the Neurophysics Graduate school (2010-current), and head of the Perception, Attention and Learning group with teams at Maastricht University and at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
His research deals with low-level perceptual processes, and modification of these processes by feedback (learning and attention). The research in his team uses motor, somatosensory and visual systems in humans and animal models, using an integrative approach with methods ranging from micro-array screening and proteomics to neurophysiology and fMRI. His research has been published in high-ranking journals including Science, Nature Neurosience, Nature, Neuron, and the Journal of Neuroscience. He has edited two books, and his research has received ample attention in the media.