Ole Jensen

An oscillatory pipelining mechanism supporting visual exploration and reading

When we explore a visual scene or read, we make saccades every 250 milliseconds. It takes about 100 milliseconds to prepare and execute each saccade, leaving less than 150 milliseconds for the visual system to identify the object or word we are fixating at and prepare for the next saccade. To uncover the fast neuronal mechanisms that support natural reading, we combined MEG with a new technique called rapid invisible frequency tagging and multivariate pattern analysis to investigate how we process upcoming words before we saccade to them. We found that we process upcoming words at both the lexical and semantic levels, and the depth of this processing predicts the individual reading speed. We also discovered that saccades are locked to the phase of ongoing alpha oscillations, which supports the coordination of visual and saccadic activity during reading. These findings provide support for an oscillatory pipelining mechanism that supports natural vision.


Pan, Y., Popov, T., Frisson, S., and Jensen, O. (2023) Saccades are locked to the phase of alpha oscillations during natural reading. PloS Biol 21(1): e3001968.

Jensen, O., Frisson, S., Pan, Y., and Wang, L. (2021) A pipelining mechanism supporting previewing during visual exploration and reading. Trends in Cogn Sci 25:103301044.

Pan, Y., Frisson, S., and Jensen, O. (2021) Neural evidence for lexical parafoveal processing. Nature Communications 12:5234.


Ole Jensen received his MSc degree in electrical engineering in 1993 from the Technical University of Denmark and then pursued his doctoral research at Brandeis University in the United States. In 1998 he obtained a PhD degree in neuroscience specializing in computational modelling of oscillatory networks. Then as a postdoctoral fellow, he applied magnetoencephalography (MEG) to address questions on brain dynamics and human cognition at the Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory. Helsinki University of Technology. In 2002 he was employed at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior as principal investigator and then appointed professor at the Faculty of Science, Radboud University Nijmegen in 2013. In 2016 he started a position as a professor in translational neuroscience at the University of Birmingham where he is founding co-director of the Centre for Human Brain Health (CHBH). His current work focuses on linking oscillatory brain activity to cognition: how does oscillatory brain activity shape the functional architecture of the working brain in the context of memory and attention.