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Durham University



Dr Maria Olkkonen

Personal web page

Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43266
Room number: RH012

Contact Dr Maria Olkkonen (email at


 I received an M.A. in psychology with a minor in philosophy from the University of Helsinki in 2004, writing my master's thesis on the interaction between brightness and color information in the simultaneous contrast illusion. Working with Dr. Pentti Laurinen on my master's thesis made me realize what a powerful tool psychophysics is for studying psychological processes and neural computation. After working in corporate research at the Nokia Research Center for a while, I decided to go back to academia and was offered a PhD studentship with Prof. Karl Gegenfurtner at the University of Giessen. During my time in the lab, I learned color psychophysics and computer rendering, and received my PhD in 2009. To learn more about color and material constancy, I then moved to Philadelphia to work with Prof. David Brainard at UPenn. I learned to calibrate a high-dynamic range display and used it to understand the perception of glossiness and lightness under different natural light fields. While in Philadelphia, I also worked with Prof. Sarah Allred at Rutgers on the relationship between color memory and perception, and finally did a two-year project in Prof. Russell Epstein's lab learning about fMRI adaptation and MVPA methods. I've held an assistant professorship in Durham since September 2015.

Office hours

Wednesdays 14-15 (RH12)

Research Interests

  • Color constancy
  • Color perception
  • Probabilistic inference
  • Visual psychophysics, cognitive neuroscience

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Olkkonen, M & Ekroll, V (2016). Color constancy and contextual influences on color appearance. In Springer series in Vision Research. Human color constancy. Rigmor Baraas, Jan Kremers & J Marshal Springer.
  • Olkkonen, M., Hansen, T. & Gegenfurtner, K. R. (2012). Higher-level perceptual influences on color appearance. In Visual Experience: Sensation, Cognition, and Constancy. Hatfield, G. & Allred, S. R. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 179-198.

Journal Article

Show all publications

Research Groups

International Collaboration

  • Dr. Linda Henriksson, Aalto University, Finland
  • Dr. Toni Saarela, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Prof. Geoffrey K. Aguirre, University of Pennsylvania, PA
  • Prof. Sarah Allred, Rutgers, NJ
  • Prof. Yoko Mizokami, Chiba University

Selected Grants

  • 2015: Academy of Finland research fellowship (ca. £500 000)

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