Søren Kyllingsbæk

Søren Kyllingsbæk

Professor, Teacher, external

Research fields

  • Visual Cognition
  • Perception
  • Attention
  • Mathematical Modelling
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Research group memberships

  • Department of Psychology: Cognition and Clinical Neuropsychology

Research: brief description

Søren Kyllingsbæk is Professor in Cognitive Psychology at the Department of Psychology and at the Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen. His research is mainly focused on experimental studies and mathematical modeling of visual cognition including visual perception, attention, and short-term memory as well as intentional actions. Together with Professors Claus Bundesen and Thomas Habekost, he has developed a Neural Theory of Visual Attention (NTVA; Bundesen, Habekost, & Kyllingsbæk, 2005), which forms the main basis of the empirical and theoretical work at the Center for Visual Cognition. Søren Kyllingsbæk’s recent work on NTVA has mainly been focusing on further theoretical extensions of NTVA to form a unified theory of perception, attention, and visual short-term memory, which he presented in a doctoral thesis in 2014 (see Kyllingsbæk, 2014). The work is done in collaboration with Professor Susanne Ditlevesen and Associate Professor Bo Markussen at the Department of Mathemathical Sciences, UCPH and Professor Barry Giesbrecht at the UCSB.

In collaboration with Associate Professor Thor Grünbaum from the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen, Søren Kyllingsbæk studies human voluntary action more specifically intentional object-oriented action. The aim is to develop a mathematical theory of selections of intentions and intentional actions integrating philosophically and psychological approaches including psychophysical experiments and computational modeling.

Link to Google Scholar profile: https://scholar.google.dk/citations?user=TIMCthYAAAAJ&hl=da

Link to Researchgate profile: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Soren_Kyllingsbaek

Current research projects

  • A Poisson counter model of visual identification.
  • A general model of reaction time and pure accuracy tasks.
  • Visual processing capacity and perceptual load.
  • Visual short-term memory capacity.
  • A computational theory of intentional action selection.
  • Biased attention and economic decision-making.
  • Intra-cranial EEG study of the general demand system in the brain.

Major grants

2016: Grant from the Danish Research Council for the Humanities to the project: ” Intentions, Selection, and Agency” (principle investigator Assoc. Prof. Thor Grünbaum), 2016-2020: DKK 5,670,757.

2014: Grant from the Danish Research Council for Social Sciences to the project: ”Biased attention and economic decision-making” (principle investigator Assoc. Prof. Alexander Christopher Sebald), 2014-2016: DKK 5,772,435.

2013: Grant from the University of Copenhagen Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research to the project “Attention to Dopamine: From Psychological Functions to Molecular Mechanisms” (principal investigator Prof. Ulrik Gether), 2013-2016: DKK 18,759,000.

2013: Grant from the University of Copenhagen Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research to the project “Dynamical Systems: Mathematical Modeling and Statistical Methodology for the Social, Health and Natural Sciences” (principal investigator Prof. Susanne Ditlevsen), 2013-2016: DKK 28,176,000.

2010: Award and grant for outstanding young research leaders from the Danish Agency for Independent Research, Sapere Aude program to the project: "Modeling Visual Cognition – Perception, Attention, and Short-term Memory" (principal investigator Søren Kyllingsbæk), 2011-2015: DKK 8,591,280.

2010: Grant from the Danish Research Council for Culture and Communication to the collaborative project: "Intentional Action, Attention to Objects, and Working Memory" (principal investigator Søren Kyllingsbæk), 2010-2013: DKK 7,783,200.

2005: Grant from the Programme for Young Researchers at the Strategic Research Council to lead the “Center for Computational Cognitive Modeling” (principal investigator Søren Kyllingsbæk), 2006 – 2010: DKK 2,717,700.

2003: Postdoc grant from the Carlsberg Foundation to the project “Attentional control, visual short-term memory, and the fronto-parietal network”, 2003 – 2005:  DKK 1,248,210.


Courses at the Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD level:

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Visual Perception
  • Ekperimental methods
  • Mathematical modeling


  • Supervision of Bachelor's theses.
  • Supervision of Master's theses in cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and experimental psychology.
  • Supervision of PhD students in cognitive psychology and neuropsychology.

Selected publications

Tamborrino, M., Ditlevsen, S., Markussen, B., & Kyllingsbæk, S. (2017). Gaussian counter models for visual identification of briefly presented, mutually confusable single stimuli in pure accuracy tasks. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 79, 25-103.

Smith, P. L., Lilburn, S. D., Corbett, E. A., Sewell, D. K., & Kyllingsbæk, S. (2016). The attention-weighted sample-size model of visual short-term memory: Attention capture predicts resource allocation and memory load. Cognitive Psychology, 89, 71-105.

Li, K., Kozyrev, V., Kyllingsbæk, S., Treue, S., Ditlevsen, S., & Bundesen, C. (2016). Neurons in primate visual cortex alternate between responses to multiple stimuli in their receptive field. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 10, 141, 1-20.

Kyllingsbæk, S. (2016). Visual Processing Capacity. In Mathematical Models of Perception and Cognition Volume II: A Festschrift for James T. Townsend, ch. 2, 32-46.

Christiansen, J. H., Christensen, J., Grünbaum, T., Kyllingsbæk, S. (2014). A common representation of spatial features drives action and perception: grasping and judging object features within trials. PLoS ONE, 9, e94744, 1-14. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094744

Giesbrecht, B., Sy, J., Bundesen, C., & Kyllingsbæk, S. (2014). A new perspective on the perceptual selectivity of attention under load. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1316, 71-86. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12404

Kyllingsbæk, S. (2014). Modeling Visual Cognition – Encoding, Attention, and Short-term memory. Doctoral Dissertation in Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Kyllingsbæk, S., Van Lommel, S., Sørensen, T. A., & Bundesen, C. (2014). Automatic attraction of visual attention by supraletter features of former target strings. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1383. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01383

Habekost, T. , Vogel, A., Rostrup, E., Bundesen, C., Kyllingsbæk, S., Garde, E., Ryberg, C., & Waldemar, G. (2013). Visual processing speed in old age. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 54, 89-94. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12008

Kraft, A. Dyrholm, M., Bundesen, C., Kyllingsbæk, S., Kathmann, N., & Brandt, S. A. (2013). Visual attention capacity parameters covary with hemifieldalignment. Neuropsychologia, 51, 876-885. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.01.021

Petersen, A., Kyllingsbæk, S., & Bundesen, C. (2013). Attentional dwell times for targets and masks. Journal of Vision, 13(3), 34, 1-12. doi: 10.1167/13.3.34

Gillebert, C., Dyrholm, M., Vangkilde, S. A., Kyllingsbæk, S., Peeters, R., & Vandenberghe, R. (2012). Attentional priorities and access to short-term memory: Parietal interactions. NeuroImage, 62, 1551-1562.

Kyllingsbæk, S., Markussen, B., & Bundesen, C. (2012). Testing a Poisson counter model for visual identification of briefly presented, mutually confusable single stimuli in pure accuracy tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 628-642. doi: 10.1037/a0024751

McAvinue, L., Habekost, T., Johnson, K., Kyllingsbæk, S., Vangkilde, S. A., Bundesen, C., & Robertson, I. (2012). Sustained attention, attentional selectivity, and attentional capacity across the lifespan. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 74, 1570-1582.

Petersen, A., & Kyllingsbæk, S. (2012). Eye Movements and Practice Effects in the Attentional Dwell Time Paradigm. Experimental Psychology, 60, 22-33. doi: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000170

Petersen, A., Kyllingsbæk, S., & Bundesen, C. (2012). Measuring and Modelling Attentional Dwell Time. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 1029-1046.

Sørensen, T. A., & Kyllingsbæk, S. (2012). Short-term storage capacity for visual objects depends on expertise. Acta Psychologica, 140, 158-163.

Bundesen, C., Habekost, T., & Kyllingsbæk, S. (2011). A neural theory of visual attention and short-term memory. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1446-1457. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.12.006

Dyrholm, M., Kyllingsbæk, S., Espeseth, T., Bundesen, C. (2011). Generalizing parametric models by introducing trial-by-trial parameter variability: The case of TVA. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 55, 416-429. doi:10.1016/j.jmp.2011.08.005

Kyllingsbæk, S., Sy, J. L., & Giesbrecht, B. (2011). Understanding the allocation of attention when faced with varying perceptual load in partial report: A computational approach. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1487-1497. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.11.039

Dubois, M., Kyllingsbæk, S., Prado, C., Musca, S., Peiffer, E., Lassus, D., & Valdois, S. (2010). Fractionating the multi-element processing deficit in developmental dyslexia: Evidence from two case studies. Cortex, 46, 717-738.

Kyllingsbæk, S., & Bundesen, C. (2009). Changing change detection: Improving the reliability of measures of visual short-term memory capacity. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16, 1000-1010.

Kyllingsbæk, S., & Bundesen, C. (2007). Parallel processing in a multi-feature whole-report paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 33, 64-82.

Kyllingsbæk, S., Valla, C., Vanrie, J., & Bundesen, C. (2007). Effects of spatial separation between stimuli in whole report from brief visual displays. Perception & Psychophysics, 69, 1040-1050.

Kyllingsbæk, S. (2006). Modeling visual attention. Behavior Research Methods, 38, 123-133.

Bublak, P., Finke, K., Krummenacher, J., Preger, R., Kyllingsbæk, S., Müller, H. J., & Schneider, W. X. (2005). Usability of a theory of visual attention (TVA) for parameter-based measurement of attention II: Evidence from two patients with frontal or parietal damage. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 11, 843-854.

Bundesen, C., Habekost, T., & Kyllingsbæk, S (2005). A neural theory of visual attention. Bridging cognition and neurophysiology. Psychological Review, 112, 291-328.

Finke, F., Bublak, P., Krummenacher, J., Kyllingsbæk, S., Müller, H. J., Schneider, W. X. (2005). Usability of a theory of visual attention (TVA) for parameter-based measurement of attention I: Evidence from normal subjects. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 11, 832-842.

Larsen, A., Kyllingsbæk, S., Law, I., & Bundesen, C. (2005). Activation in the MT-complex during visual perception of apparent motion and temporal succession. Neuropsychologia, 43, 1060-1071.

Humphreys, G. W., Kyllingsbæk, S., Watson, D. G., Olivers, C. N. L., Law, I., & Paulson, O. B. (2004). Parieto-occipital areas involved in efficient filtering in search: A time course analysis of visual marking using behavioural and functional imaging procedures. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Section A, 57, 610-635.

Bundesen, C., Kyllingsbæk, S., & Larsen, A. (2003). Independent encoding of colors and shapes from two stimuli. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 10, 474-479.

Duncan, J., Bundesen, C., Olson, A., Humphreys, G., Ward, R., Kyllingsbæk, S., van Raamsdonk, M., Rorden, C., & Chavda, S. (2003). Attentional functions in dorsal and ventral simultanagnosia. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 20, 675-701.

Kyllingsbæk, S., Schneider, W. X., & Bundesen, C. (2001). Automatic attraction of attention to former targets in visual displays of letters. Perception & Psychophysics, 63, 85-98

Larsen, A., Bundesen, C., Kyllingsbæk, S., Paulson, O. B., & Law, I. (2000). Brain activation during mental transformation of size. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12(5), 763-774.

Hugdahl, K., Brønnick, K.,Kyllingsbæk, S.,Law, I., Gade, A., & Paulson, O. B. (1999). Brain activation during dichotic presentations of consonant-vowel and musical instrument stimuli: a 15O-PET study. Neuropsychologia, 37, 431-440.

Bundesen, C., Kyllingsbæk, S., Houmann, K. J., & Jensen, R. M. (1997). Is visual attention automatically attracted by one's own name? Perception & Psychophysics, 59(5), 714-720.

Current research

Intention, Selection, and Agency

How do people remember what they have decided to do? How are those intentions stored and later, when the time is right, retrieved? This ability is central to human agency. Without it, we could not form intentions for future actions, we would lose our ability for long-term planning, and our psychological and practical life would lose its structure and stability. And yet, the problem of how intentions are selected and retrieved from memory has received little attention in the philosophical and psychological literature. This project will propose a new psychological model for the selection and retrieval of intentions from memory and situate it within existing philosophical debates.

The project runs within the CoInAct research group in collaboration with Thor Grünbaum from the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication and Mark Schram Christensen at the Department of Neuroscience.

ID: 1496870