Selim Onat

I am a neuroscientist working currently on how humans make generalizations based on what they have previously learnt. To do so, I am using a variety of methodologies including fMRI (1), autonomous (2), as well as eye-movement recordings (3).

This research emanates from the well-established field of "stimulus generalization" following mainly the "lineage" of Hovland, Hull and Roger Shepard (4), and including the more recent computational work of Josua Tenenbaum (5). Furthermore, it integrates work on anxiety disorders, as it is believed that these mechanisms are impaired in people suffering from anxiety problems.

In the past, I have been working on how the nervous system processes natural scenes both at the electrophysiological and sensory-motor level. Since the times of Hubel and Wiesel, visual processing had been
overwhelmingly studied with artificial stimuli such as moving edges. However this type of stimuli suffer from an ecological validity problem, as they only rarely occur in real-life. We therefore investigated cortical processing during viewing of natural movies. This previous work focused on visual processing using mostly the technique of voltage-sensitive dye imaging and eye-tracking.

The Famous Lenna appears in Woody Allen Movie

Anybody who has ever read a book or paper about Sobel Filters, kernels and digital filtering in the context of image processing should have seen at least once the following test image.

This is the famous Lena picture. But who is Lena? Interestingly, back then in 1973 Woody Allen used the same photograph in one of his famous movies, The Sleeper. This funny coincidence unrevealed the origin of this test picture, well at least for me. It is actually taken from Playboy Magazine as Woody Allen says in the movie. Following a quick search I was able to find this funny internet article (, which is just about Lena's history in science. This also explains why the image is generally so strangely cut.