Main Focus

Project leader

I am the project leader for the research group.

In our group, we conduct both fundamental and applied research on self-motion. The aim of our fundamental research is a comprehensive understanding of the perceptual and cognitive processes underlying self-motion. We perform experimental studies to measure perceptual thresholds, to untangle the mechanisms behind motion sickness, and to develop and validate models of the processes by which the brain constructs percepts of self-motion. Also, we apply knowledge of self-motion perception in the development of motion cueing algorithms, we assess the fidelity of motion cueing solutions, we investigate potential side-effects of autonomous driving on passengers, and we develop solutions to these problems.


In 2008, I graduated cum laude from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, with a Master’s degree in Applied Cognitive Psychology. For my Master’s thesis, I studied whether perception of a is reflected in modulation of activity in the brain’s visual cortex by tactile stimulation. This work kindled my interest in how our perceptions result from the flood of information about our environment provided by our sensory systems. I subsequently started a research project on as a PhD-student at Utrecht University and the Netherlands Institute for Applied Scientic Research (TNO). I completed this project with a doctorate in 2013.

After a brief foray into industry as a data scientist, during which I worked on statistical models to guide decision making, I returned to research on self-motion perception here at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in 2014. As of March 2017, I am project leader at the Motion Perception and Simulation research group.

Selected publications
  • Causal Inference in the Perception of Verticality Scientific Reports (2018)
  • Neural correlates of decision making on whole body yaw rotation: an fNIRS study Neuroscience Letters (2017)
  • Causal Inference in Multisensory Heading Estimation PLoS ONE (2017)
Causal Inference in the Perception of Self-Motion

When we move through our surroundings, the information that our visual system and other sensory systems provide on self-motion is generally in agreement. When multiple sources provide the same information, this information can be combined to form the most reliable estimate of our motion. However, in motion simulators the information that is presented to the different sensory systems does not have to be in agreement. Hence, in this case the brain can be faced with a problem of Causal Inference: do different sensory signals share a common cause or not? Should the information be combined or not? In my research I investigate how large discrepancies between stimuli presented to different sensory modalities may become before they are noticed, and how our perceptions are affected by detection of a discrepancy.

The knowledge that we gain from this research finds applications in the work of my group, the group. Knowledge of discrepancy-detection thresholds is incorporated in algorithms that translate vehicle motion into simulator motion, in order to make optimal use of a motion simulator’s capabilities.

Student projects

I am supervising the following Master's thesis research projects:

  • Joost Zijlstra: ""
  • Max Kurtz: ""
  • Marten Bloch: ""

Curriculum Vitae

Ksander N. de Winkel

I am a researcher in the field of psychophysics and self-motion perception. My main research topics are cue combination in multisensory perception, perception of self-motion, and perception of spatial orientation.

Current position

Since March '17 Project leader Motion Perception and Simulation research group, at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. Tuebingen, Germany.


2008 - 2013

Ph.D. Candidate at Utrecht University, department of Information and Computing Sciences, and TNO Defence, Safety & Security
Thesis title: Multisensory Perception of Spatial Orientation and Self-Motion

2011 Applied Bayesian Statistics (course) Interuniversitaire Onderzoekschool voor Psychometrie en Sociometrie, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2009 Mathematical Statistics (course) Graduate School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2007 - 2008 Master of Science (M.Sc.) Applied Cognitive Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Thesis title: Touch-induced illusory flash alters activity in the human visual cortex.
2004 - 2007 Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Psychology , Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


2014 - 2018 Research scientist at Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. Tuebingen, Germany. Research on multisensory integration and causal inference in the perception of Self-Motion.
2013 - 2014 Data scientist at Assensia Business Intelligence. Amersfoort, The Netherlands.
data-modelling and development of statistical models to aid human decision making.
2008 - 2013 PhD-student at Utrecht University , Department of Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands and TNO Defence, Safety & Security Soesterberg, The Netherlands
Project: study multisensory interactions in the perception of self-motion and body-orientation.
2007 - 2008 Research Internship at TNO Defence, Safety & Security Soesterberg, The Netherlands
Project: Research on the neurological underpinnings of visual illusions

Honors and awards

2012 Young Researcher Grant awarded by ESA Scientific Committee at the “Life in Space for Life on Earth Symposium”, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.
2008 Received M.Sc. degree cum laude (highest distinction)


Cognitive Psychology, Displays, Driving Simulation Conference, Experimental Brain Research, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, NeuroImage, Neuroscience Letters, PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS ONE, Psychophysiology.

Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):

  • Department Human Perception, Cognition & Action
  • Group Motion Perception & Simulation
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