UCL Psychology and Language Sciences

Dr Tessa Dekker

Dr Tessa Dekker

Research Fellow

Experimental Psychology

Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2016

Research summary

I am interested in how genes, brains, and experience interact during development to shape how we see and act on the world. How does the ability to detect meaningful patterns in our noisy sensory information become optimised during development? And how does the developing system learn to use this information for efficient action and decision-making? How are these processes affected by atypical development, and what is the scope for experience-dependent plasticity at the neural and behavioural level? 

To study these questions, I take a multi-method approach that combines psychophysics, model-based analyses of behavioural data (e.g. fitting performance to mathematical ideal observer models), eye-tracking, EEG, and state-of the art fMRI methods (multivariate methods based in machine learning, model fitting to resolve neural population tuning-curves). A challenging but fun aspect of this research is to come up with ways in which these methods can be used to obtain precise and reliable measures from very young children and even infants.

I have done and continue to do my research in collaboration with Prof. Marty Sereno, Prof. Denis Mareschal, Prof. Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Dr. Marko Nardini, Prof. Larry Maloney, Dr. Andrew Welchman, Dr. Hiroshi Ban, Prof. Gary Rubin, Dr. Peter Jones, Dr. Sam Schwartzkopf, and Prof. Steven Scholte, amongst others.

Teaching summary

 I co-organise the 2nd year BSc Psychology module on Perception at the UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, and provide fMRI safety and operator training at the Birkbeck/UCL Centre for Neuroimaging. In addition, I regularly give sessional lectures at various London Universities, including UCL Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL Institute of Child Health, Westminster, and Kingston University. Topics include development of vision, vision for action, MRI methods, developmental disorders, and motor systems in the brain.


I obtained my PhD (funded by a Marie Curie Centre of Excellence Grant) at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London, under supervision of Prof. Marty Sereno, Prof. Denis Mareschal, and Prof Mark Johnson. This project focussed on the development of object representations in the dorsal and ventral stream. In my postdoc, I worked with Dr. Marko Nardini at the UCL Institute of Opthalmology, studying the development of sensory and motor integration and its neural basis.

Since January 2016, I am a Research Fellow at the UCL Division of Language and Psychology, on an ESRC Future Leaders Fellowship. I head the Child Vision Lab, which studies the development of vision and vision for action in normal and atypical development. The lab is partially based at Experimental Psychology, and at the Institute of Opthalmology.