Professor Zoe Kourtzi

Zoe Kourtzi

University position


Professor Zoe Kourtzi is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Psychology


Home page

Research Themes

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience

Systems and Computational Neuroscience


My work aims to understand the role of learning and experience in enabling humans of all ages to translate sensory experience into complex decisions and adaptive behaviours. Adaptive cognitive abilities are critical for survival and social interactions, yet extracting meaning from the complex, and frequently ambiguous, input of the natural world is a computationally demanding task that is far from understood. I address this challenge through an interdisciplinary approach that combines behavioural paradigms with multimodal brain imaging (MRI, EEG, MEG, TMS) and state-of-the-art computational methods. I apply these techniques to study the young and ageing brain and understand learning and cortical plasticity across the lifespan.

Research Focus


learning and brain plasticity

visual perception and cognition

cognitive ageing

brain imaging

computational neuroscience

Clinical conditions

Alzheimer's disease

Cognitive impairment


Learning disabilities


Behavioural analysis

Computational modelling

Electroencephalography (EEG)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Neuropsychological testing

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)


No collaborators listed

Associated News Items



Lestou V, Lam JM, Humphreys K, Kourtzi Z, Humphreys GW (2014), “A dorsal visual route necessary for global form perception: evidence from neuropsychological FMRI.” J Cogn Neurosci 26(3):621-34 Details

Shen Y, Mayhew SD, Kourtzi Z, Ti?o P (2014), “Spatial-temporal modelling of fMRI data through spatially regularized mixture of hidden process models.” Neuroimage 84:657-71 Details


Baker R, Dexter M, Hardwicke TE, Goldstone A, Kourtzi Z (2013), “Learning to predict: Exposure to temporal sequences facilitates prediction of future events.” Vision Res Details

Chang DH, Kourtzi Z, Welchman AE (2013), “Mechanisms for extracting a signal from noise as revealed through the specificity and generality of task training.” J Neurosci 33(27):10962-71 Details

Garcia A, Kuai SG, Kourtzi Z (2013), “Differences in the time course of learning for hard compared to easy training.” Front Psychol 4:110 Details

Johannsen L, Li KZ, Chechlacz M, Bibi A, Kourtzi Z, Wing AM (2013), “Functional neuroimaging of the interference between working memory and the control of periodic ankle movement timing.” Neuropsychologia 51(11):2142-53 Details

Kuai SG, Kourtzi Z (2013), “Learning to see, but not discriminate, visual forms is impaired in aging.” Psychol Sci 24(4):412-22 Details

Kuai SG, Levi D, Kourtzi Z (2013), “Learning optimizes decision templates in the human visual cortex.” Curr Biol 23(18):1799-804 Details

Mayhew SD, Kourtzi Z (2013), “Dissociable circuits for visual shape learning in the young and aging human brain.” Front Hum Neurosci 7:75 Details

Welchman AE, Kourtzi Z (2013), “Linking brain imaging signals to visual perception.” Vis Neurosci 30(5-6):229-41 Details


de Jong MC, Kourtzi Z, van Ee R (2012), “Perceptual experience modulates cortical circuits involved in visual awareness.” Eur J Neurosci 36(12):3718-31 Details

Li S, Mayhew SD, Kourtzi Z (2012), “Learning shapes spatiotemporal brain patterns for flexible categorical decisions.” Cereb Cortex 22(10):2322-35 Details

Mayhew SD, Li S, Kourtzi Z (2012), “Learning acts on distinct processes for visual form perception in the human brain.” J Neurosci 32(3):775-86 Details


Kourtzi Z, Connor CE (2011), “Neural representations for object perception: structure, category, and adaptive coding.” Annu Rev Neurosci 34:45-67 Details


Chen D, Li S, Kourtzi Z, Wu S (2010), “Behavior-constrained support vector machines for fMRI data analysis.” IEEE Trans Neural Netw 21(10):1680-5 Details

Duncan KK, Hadjipapas A, Li S, Kourtzi Z, Bagshaw A, Barnes G (2010), “Identifying spatially overlapping local cortical networks with MEG.” Hum Brain Mapp 31(7):1003-16 Details

Gerardin P, Kourtzi Z, Mamassian P (2010), “Prior knowledge of illumination for 3D perception in the human brain.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107(37):16309-14 Details

Kourtzi Z (2010), “Visual learning for perceptual and categorical decisions in the human brain.” Vision Res 50(4):433-40 Details

Mayhew SD, Li S, Storrar JK, Tsvetanov KA, Kourtzi Z (2010), “Learning shapes the representation of visual categories in the aging human brain.” J Cogn Neurosci 22(12):2899-912 Details

Papathomas TV, Kourtzi Z, Welchman AE (2010), “Perspective-based illusory movement in a flat billboard--an explanation.” Perception 39(8):1086-93 Details

Peterson MF, Das K, Sy JL, Li S, Giesbrecht B, Kourtzi Z, Eckstein MP (2010), “Ideal observer analysis for task normalization of pattern classifier performance applied to EEG and fMRI data.” J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis 27(12):2670-83 Details

Zhang J, Kourtzi Z (2010), “Learning-dependent plasticity with and without training in the human brain.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107(30):13503-8 Details

Zhang J, Meeson A, Welchman AE, Kourtzi Z (2010), “Learning alters the tuning of functional magnetic resonance imaging patterns for visual forms.” J Neurosci 30(42):14127-33 Details


Jastorff J, Kourtzi Z, Giese MA (2009), “Visual learning shapes the processing of complex movement stimuli in the human brain.” J Neurosci 29(44):14026-38 Details

Kourtzi Z (2009), “Challenges in object recognition: selectivity vs invariance.” Perception 38(6):818-20; discussion 824-5 Details

Li S, Mayhew SD, Kourtzi Z (2009), “Learning shapes the representation of behavioral choice in the human brain.” Neuron 62(3):441-52 Details

Preston TJ, Kourtzi Z, Welchman AE (2009), “Adaptive estimation of three-dimensional structure in the human brain.” J Neurosci 29(6):1688-98 Details

Raemaekers M, Lankheet MJ, Moorman S, Kourtzi Z, van Wezel RJ (2009), “Directional anisotropy of motion responses in retinotopic cortex.” Hum Brain Mapp 30(12):3970-80 Details

Schwarzkopf DS, Zhang J, Kourtzi Z (2009), “Flexible learning of natural statistics in the human brain.” J Neurophysiol 102(3):1854-67 Details


Kourtzi Z, Krekelberg B, van Wezel RJ (2008), “Linking form and motion in the primate brain.” Trends Cogn Sci 12(6):230-6 Details

Lestou V, Pollick FE, Kourtzi Z (2008), “Neural substrates for action understanding at different description levels in the human brain.” J Cogn Neurosci 20(2):324-41 Details

Ostwald D, Lam JM, Li S, Kourtzi Z (2008), “Neural coding of global form in the human visual cortex.” J Neurophysiol 99(5):2456-69 Details

Preston TJ, Li S, Kourtzi Z, Welchman AE (2008), “Multivoxel pattern selectivity for perceptually relevant binocular disparities in the human brain.” J Neurosci 28(44):11315-27 Details

Schwarzkopf DS, Kourtzi Z (2008), “Experience shapes the utility of natural statistics for perceptual contour integration.” Curr Biol 18(15):1162-7 Details


Chandrasekaran C, Canon V, Dahmen JC, Kourtzi Z, Welchman AE (2007), “Neural correlates of disparity-defined shape discrimination in the human brain.” J Neurophysiol 97(2):1553-65 Details

Li S, Ostwald D, Giese M, Kourtzi Z (2007), “Flexible coding for categorical decisions in the human brain.” J Neurosci 27(45):12321-30 Details

Weigelt S, Kourtzi Z, Kohler A, Singer W, Muckli L (2007), “The cortical representation of objects rotating in depth.” J Neurosci 27(14):3864-74 Details


Jastorff J, Kourtzi Z, Giese MA (2006), “Learning to discriminate complex movements: biological versus artificial trajectories.” J Vis 6(8):791-804 Details

Kourtzi Z (2006), “Textures of natural images in the human brain. Focus on "orientation-selective adaptation to first- and second-order patterns in human visual cortex".” J Neurophysiol 95(2):591-2 Details

Kourtzi Z, Augath M, Logothetis NK, Movshon JA, Kiorpes L (2006), “Development of visually evoked cortical activity in infant macaque monkeys studied longitudinally with fMRI.” Magn Reson Imaging 24(4):359-66 Details

Kourtzi Z, DiCarlo JJ (2006), “Learning and neural plasticity in visual object recognition.” Curr Opin Neurobiol 16(2):152-8 Details

Tjan BS, Lestou V, Kourtzi Z (2006), “Uncertainty and invariance in the human visual cortex.” J Neurophysiol 96(3):1556-68 Details


Altmann CF, Grodd W, Kourtzi Z, Bülthoff HH, Karnath HO (2005), “Similar cortical correlates underlie visual object identification and orientation judgment.” Neuropsychologia 43(14):2101-8 Details

Kourtzi Z, Betts LR, Sarkheil P, Welchman AE (2005), “Distributed neural plasticity for shape learning in the human visual cortex.” PLoS Biol 3(7):e204 Details

Kourtzi Z, Huberle E (2005), “Spatiotemporal characteristics of form analysis in the human visual cortex revealed by rapid event-related fMRI adaptation.” Neuroimage 28(2):440-52 Details

Krekelberg B, Vatakis A, Kourtzi Z (2005), “Implied motion from form in the human visual cortex.” J Neurophysiol 94(6):4373-86 Details

Moutoussis K, Keliris G, Kourtzi Z, Logothetis N (2005), “A binocular rivalry study of motion perception in the human brain.” Vision Res 45(17):2231-43 Details

Welchman AE, Deubelius A, Conrad V, Bülthoff HH, Kourtzi Z (2005), “3D shape perception from combined depth cues in human visual cortex.” Nat Neurosci 8(6):820-7 Details


Altmann CF, Deubelius A, Kourtzi Z (2004), “Shape saliency modulates contextual processing in the human lateral occipital complex.” J Cogn Neurosci 16(5):794-804 Details

Kourtzi Z (2004), “"But still, it moves".” Trends Cogn Sci 8(2):47-9 Details


Altmann CF, Bülthoff HH, Kourtzi Z (2003), “Perceptual organization of local elements into global shapes in the human visual cortex.” Curr Biol 13(4):342-9 Details

Kourtzi Z, Erb M, Grodd W, Bülthoff HH (2003), “Representation of the perceived 3-D object shape in the human lateral occipital complex.” Cereb Cortex 13(9):911-20 Details

Kourtzi Z, Tolias AS, Altmann CF, Augath M, Logothetis NK (2003), “Integration of local features into global shapes: monkey and human FMRI studies.” Neuron 37(2):333-46 Details


Kourtzi Z, Bülthoff HH, Erb M, Grodd W (2002), “Object-selective responses in the human motion area MT/MST.” Nat Neurosci 5(1):17-8 Details

Thornton IM, Kourtzi Z (2002), “A matching advantage for dynamic human faces.” Perception 31(1):113-32 Details


Grill-Spector K, Kourtzi Z, Kanwisher N (2001), “The lateral occipital complex and its role in object recognition.” Vision Res 41(10-11):1409-22 Details

Kourtzi Z, Kanwisher N (2001), “Representation of perceived object shape by the human lateral occipital complex.” Science 293(5534):1506-9 Details

Kourtzi Z, Shiffrar M (2001), “Visual representation of malleable and rigid objects that deform as they rotate.” J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 27(2):335-55 Details


Kourtzi Z, Kanwisher N (2000), “Implied motion activates extrastriate motion-processing areasResponse to David and Senior (2000).” Trends Cogn Sci 4(8):295-296 Details

Kourtzi Z, Kanwisher N (2000), “Cortical regions involved in perceiving object shape.” J Neurosci 20(9):3310-8 Details

Kourtzi Z, Kanwisher N (2000), “Activation in human MT/MST by static images with implied motion.” J Cogn Neurosci 12(1):48-55 Details

Loula F, Kourtzi Z, Shiffrar M (2000), “Surface segmentation cues influence negative priming for novel and familiar shapes.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 26(4):929-44 Details


Kourtzi Z, Shiffrar M (1999), “Dynamic representations of human body movement.” Perception 28(1):49-62 Details

Kourtzi Z, Shiffrar M (1999), “The visual representation of three-dimensional, rotating objects.” Acta Psychol (Amst) 102(2-3):265-92 Details


Ceraso J, Kourtzi Z, Ray S (1998), “The integration of object properties.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 24(5):1152-61 Details