Johan Wagemans

principal investigator



Principal Investigator

Laboratory of Experimental Psychology
University of Leuven (K.U. Leuven)
Tiensestraat 102 - box 3711
Leuven B-3000 Belgium

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+ 32 16 32 59 69


Other information

Current research and interests:

Symmetry perception, perceptual grouping, subjective contours, figure-ground organization, 2-D shapes and objects, 3-D shapes and objects, depth perception, visual perception in autism, psycho-aesthetics of visual arts.



B.A. Psychology (1983), B.A. Philosophy (1984), M.A. Experimental Psychology (1986), and PhD Experimental Psychology (1991), all at the University of Leuven


  • Research Internship at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands (1985-86)
  • Research Assistant (1986-91) and Research Associate (1991-94) with the National Fund for Scientific Research, Belgium
  • Assistant Professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium (1993-95)
  • Visiting Research Associate & Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia, USA (1993-94)
  • Associate Professor (1995-99), Professor (1999-01), and Full Professor (2001-present), all at the University of Leuven, Belgium


  • Sponsored by the Belgian Psychological Society as "Young Psychologist" at the 25th International Congress of Psychology (1992)
  • Ph.D. thesis awarded with the Psychology Prize of the Royal Academy of Science (1992)
  • Selected by the Research Council at the University of Leuven as the most promising young researcher in the Humanities (1992)
  • Fulbright Hayes Award, NATO Fellowship, Fellowship from the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia (1993-94)
  • Supervisor of Best Thesis Award, Belgian Psychological Society (2000, Jan Vanrie and 2008, Céline Gillebert)
  • Supervisor of NEU-prize of best Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (2000, Rob van Lier)
  • Supervisor of Best Poster Award at 23rd European Conference on Visual Perception, Groningen, The Netherlands (2000, Bert Willems)
  • I.S.I. Citation Classic Award (Belgium – Humanities and Behavioral Sciences) for Wagemans, J. (1995). Detection of visual symmetries. Spatial Vision, 9, 9-32 (2000)


Some representative publications:

  • Wagemans, J., Van Gool, L., & Lamote, C. (1996). The visual system's measurement of invariants need not itself be invariant. Psychological Science, 7, 232-236.
  • Kubovy, M., Holcombe, A. O., & Wagemans, J. (1998). On the lawfulness of grouping by proximity. Cognitive Psychology, 35, 71-98.
  • Op de Beeck, H., Wagemans, J., & Vogels, R. (2001). Inferotemporal neurons represent low-dimensional configurations of parameterized shapes. Nature Neuroscience, 4, 1244-1252.
  • Wagemans, J., Wichmann, F. A., & Op de Beeck, H. (2005). Visual perception I: Basic principles. In K. Lamberts & R. Goldstone (Eds.), Handbook of cognition (pp. 3-47). London: Sage Publications.
  • De Winter, J., & Wagemans, J. (2006). Segmentation of object outlines into parts: A large-scale, integrative study. Cognition, 99, 275-325.
  • Claessens, P. M., & Wagemans, J. (2008). A Bayesian framework for cue integration in multistable grouping: Proximity, collinearity, and orientation priors in zigzag lattices. Journal of Vision, 8(7):33, 1-23,, doi: 10.1167/8.7.33.
  • Wagemans, J., De Winter, J., Op de Beeck, H.P., Ploeger, A., Beckers, T., & Vanroose, P. (2008). Identification of everyday objects on the basis of silhouette and outline versions. Perception, 37, 207-244. Lirias PDF
  • Op de Beeck, H.P., Torfs, K., & Wagemans, J. (2008). Perceived shape similarity among unfamiliar objects and the organization of the human object vision pathway. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 10111-10123. Lirias PDF
  • Panis, S., & Wagemans, J. (2009). Time-course contingencies in perceptual organization and identification of fragmented object outlines. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 661-687. Lirias PDF
  • Gillebert, C.R., Op de Beeck, H.P., Panis, S., & Wagemans, J. (2009). Subordinate categorization enhances the neural selectivity in human object-selective cortex for fine shape differences. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21, 1054-1064. Lirias PDF

Some recent publications:

  • Kogo, N., Strecha, C., Van Gool, L., & Wagemans, J. (2010). Surface construction by a 2-D differentiation-integration process: A neurocomputational model for perceived border ownership, depth, and lightness in Kanizsa figures. Psychological Review, 117, 406-439. Lirias PDF
  • Op de Beeck, H.P., Brants, M., Baeck, A., & Wagemans, J. (2010). Distributed subordinate specificity for bodies, faces, and buildings in human ventral visual cortex. NeuroImage, 49, 3414-3425. Lirias PDF
  • Ons, B., De Baene, W., & Wagemans, J. (2011). Subjectively interpreted shape dimensions as privileged and orthogonal axes in mental shape space. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37, 422-441. Lirias
  • Kayaert, G., Op de Beeck, H.P., & Wagemans, J. (2011). Dynamic prototypicality effects in visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140, 506-519. Lirias PDF
  • Kubilius, J., Wagemans, J., & Op de Beeck, H.P. (2011). Emergence of perceptual gestalts in the human visual cortex: The case of the configural superiority effect. Psychological Science, 9(11):22, 1296-1303. doi: 10.1177/0956797611417000. Lirias PDF
  • Wagemans, J., Elder, J.H., Kubovy, M., Palmer, S.E., Peterson, M.A., Singh, M., & von der Heydt, R. (2012). A century of Gestalt psychology in visual perception: I. Perceptual grouping and figure-ground organization. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1172-1217. doi: 10.1037/a0029333. Lirias PDF
  • Wagemans, J., Feldman, J., Gepshtein, S., Kimchi, R., Pomerantz, J.R., van der Helm, P., & van Leeuwen, C. (2012). A century of Gestalt psychology in visual perception: II. Conceptual and theoretical foundations. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1218-1252. doi: 10.1037/a0029334. Lirias PDF
  • Poljac, E.*, de-Wit, L.*, & Wagemans, J. (2012). Perceptual wholes can reduce the conscious accessibility of their parts. Cognition, 123, 308-312. (*joint first authors). doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.01.001. Lirias PDF
  • Koenderink, J.J., Van Doorn, A.J., & Wagemans, J. (2012). Picasso in the mind's eye of the beholder: Three-dimensional filling-in of ambiguous line drawings. Cognition, 125, 394-412. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.07.019. Lirias PDF