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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Dr Emma Stewart

Dr Emma

Lecturer in Psychology

Twitter: @eemstewart


After completing undergraduate degrees in Psychology, Law, and French, I completed my PhD in Psychology at The University of Adelaide in Australia, under the supervision of Prof Anna Ma-Wyatt. For my PhD work, I investigated how visual perception changes when humans make eye and hand movements. I then moved to Germany in 2016 to do a post-doc with Prof Alexander Schutz at the University of Marburg, where my research focussed on how humans maintain the percept of a stable world, despite making 2-3 eye movements every second. In 2021 was awarded a grant from the German research council (DFG) to work with Prof Roland Fleming at JLU Giessen (Germany), where I led my own research program looking at how inferences from the physical properties of objects in the world influence eye movements. In December 2023 I joined Queen Mary as a Lecturer (equiv. Asst. Prof) in Psychology.


PSY 209 - Research Methods and Statistics in Pyschology II


Research Interests:

My research broadly investigates how humans perceive the visual world and make eye-movements to guide decisions and actions. I combine behavioural and psychophysical methods with eye-tracking, computational modelling, reaching, computer graphics, and statistical modelling to investigate the following topics: 

1) Oculomotor planning. When we need information about something in our environment, we make rapid eye movements (saccades) to bring objects or areas of interest into our high-resolution central vision. How does this planning happen, and what sort of factors (visual, environmental, internal) determine when and where we direct our gaze?

2) Peripheral vs central vision. We make eye movements 2-3 times every second, but maintain a stable percept of the world, despite a constant change of visual input on the retina. How does the brain achieve this, and how is our experience of the world shaped by both peripheral and central vision?

3) Perceptual inference. Humans can make rapid inferences based on the physical properties (i.e. shape, geometry) of objects in the world. How do we make such inferences, and how do they affect motor planning, metacognition, and decision-making?

4) Past experience. Humans build priors about how things in the world will act, based on a lifetime of visual experience. How do these priors shape perception, action, and oculomotor planning?

5) Object viewpoint perception. Objects look different depending on how they are situated relative to you. How can we use non-uniformities in object viewpoint perception to inform us about the nature and dimensionality of our inner world, our mind’s eye?

6) Physical understanding and oculomotor control. How does our physical understanding of the world affect our interactions with the world via eye movements, and what is the interconnection between our mental models of the world and oculomotor control?

Examples of research funding:


2021 - 2024

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council; DFG). Grant number 460533638.

Title: Do inferences drawn from object properties influence saccade planning and perceptual updating?

340,342 Euro



For a full publication list, check out my Google Scholar.

  Stewart, E.E.M., Fleming, R.W., & Schütz, A.C. (2023). A simple optical flow model explains why certain object viewpoints are special. bioRxiv.
Review papers (peer-reviewed)
  Stewart, E.E.M., Valsecchi, M., & Schütz, A.C. (2020). A review of interactions between peripheral and foveal vision. Journal of Vision, 20(12), 2.
Journal Articles (peer-reviewed)

Stewart, E.E.M., and Fleming, R.W. (2023). The eyes anticipate where an object will move based on its shape. Current Biology. 33 (17), R894-R895.

Stewart, E. E. M., Hartmann, F. T., Morgenstern, Y., Storrs, K. R., Maiello, G., & Fleming, R. W. (2022). Mental object rotation based on two-dimensional visual representations. Current Biology, 32(21), R1224–R1225.

Short, C. E., Crutzen, R., Stewart, E. E. M., O’Rielly, J., Dry, M., Skuse, A., ... & Vincent, A. (2022). Exploring the Interplay Between Message Format, Need for Cognition and Personal Relevance on Processing Messages About Physical Activity: a Two-Arm Randomized Experimental Trial. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1-14.

Goettker, A., and Stewart, E.E.M. (2022). Serial dependence for oculomotor control depends on early sensory signals, Current Biology. 32(13), 2956-2961.

Stewart, E.E.M., Ludwig, C.J.H., & Schütz, A.C. (2022). Humans represent the precision and utility of information acquired across fixations. Scientific Reports. 12, 2411.

Stewart, E.E.M., Hübner, C., & Schütz, A.C. (2020). Stronger saccadic suppression of displacement and blanking effect in children. Journal of Vision, 20(10), 13.

Stewart, E.E.M., & Schütz, A.C. (2019). Transsaccadic integration benefits are not limited to the saccade target. Journal of neurophysiology, 122 (4), 1491-1501.

Stewart, E.E.M., Verghese, P., & Ma-Wyatt, A. (2019). The spatial and temporal properties of attentional selectivity for saccades and reaches. Journal of Vision, 19(9):12.

Stewart, E.E.M., & Schütz, A.C. (2019). Trans-saccadic integration is dominated by early, independent noise. Journal of Vision, 19(6):17.

Stewart, E.E.M., & Schütz, A.C. (2018). Optimal trans-saccadic integration relies on visual working memory. Vision research, 153, 70-81.

Stewart, E.E.M., & Schütz, A.C. (2018). Attention modulates trans-saccadic integration. Vision research, 142, 1-10.

Stewart, E.E.M., & Ma-Wyatt, A. (2017). The profile of attention differs between locations orthogonal to and in line with reach direction. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 79(8), 2412-2423.

Stewart, E.E.M., & Ma-Wyatt, A. (2015). The spatiotemporal characteristics of the attentional shift relative to a reach. Journal of Vision 15(5):10.

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