Mitchell van Zuijlen, PhD & Perceptual Scientist

Researcher, Psychologist, Developer and all-round Nerd.
I'm a cognitive, experimental psychologist, currently working in the field of human perception as a post-doc at the Cognitive Informatics Lab in Kyoto University, Japan. I've always been fascinated by how we perceive, experience, and interact with the world around us. I enjoy using technology and aim for innovative solutions in my work. Self-improvement is - and always has been - important to me; I'm motivated to be the best I can be. I enjoy learning, and I love the thrill of discovery. I'm always listing to music, and I love traveling, seeing new places, and trying new foods. I'm an avid reader and devour practically everything, from old classics to science fiction. My favorite writers include Voltaire, Sir Terry Pratchett, George Orwell, and Robert Jordan. If there's one word to describe me, it's curious.

My skills

Researcher I have a background in pyschology, and I have always been interestesed in perception. I am currently working in the field of human visual perception, with a focus on material perception. In my current project I study humans ability to perceive motion and shape deformations. My previous work can be found below. I strive to use innovative methods or ask innovative questions. My natural curiosity, combined with my analytical mindset keeps me commited and motivated to make my mark in this field. I like encorperating technology into my research.

Developer I am a self-taught programmer and have written code for a variety of projects, ranging from VR experiments, fMRI- EEG- and EMG-studies. My research typically is either conducted in-person with highly controlled Matlab experiments, or follows the big-data paradigm of collecting of thousands of responses from thousands of participants through online experiments. During my PhD I collected data from thousands of citizen scientists over the internet. I have experience with full-stack developement, i.e., I can create an experiment, get it online via private servers and collect data from thousands of participants. I am fond of Python, but depending on the project I’m comfortable with using Matlab or JavaScript. If need be, I can make some changes to C source-code.

Languages I’m a native Dutch speaker and I'm fluent in English. I'm currently learning and sometimes understandable in Spanish and Japanese. Furthermore, I usually manage to order the right food in German and French.


  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , van Assen, J.J., Nishida, S. Effects of optical material properties on detection of deformation of non-rigid rotating objects Vision Science Society (VSS). Florida, USA. May, 2022.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Lin, H., Bala, K., Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. The Materials In Painting (MIP) Dataset. A large scale collection of material annotations within artworks. The Skin of Things (TSOT). Amsterdam, The Netherlands (online). March, 2021.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. Conventions and temporal differences in painted faces. Electronic Imaging. California, USA. July, 2020.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. Material qualities for depicted materials in paintings compared to photographic materials. Conference on Empirical Methods in Art History and Visual Studies . Vienna, Austria. July, 2019.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. Material property space analysis for depicted materials. Vision Sciences Society (VSS) . Florida, USA. May, 2019.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Lin, H., Upchurch, P., Bala, K., Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. Perceptual qualities of things. Perception Day. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. December, 2018.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Lin, H., Upchurch, P., Bala, K., Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. The influence of scene context on perception of material properties. The Skin of Things (TSOT). Amsterdam, The Netherlands. November, 2018.

  • van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Lin, H., Upchurch, P., Bala, K., Pont, S.C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. Has the depiction of the human face changed over the centuries? The Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC). Trieste, Italy. August, 2018.

Posters, co-author
  • Di Cicco, F., van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Wijntjes, M.W.A., Pont, S.C. Perceptual signatures of velvet and satin depicted in 17th century paintings. Vision Sciences Society (VSS). Florida, USA. May, 2020.

  • Wijntjes, M.W.A., van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Di Cicco, F., Relation between 3D shape and image luminance reveals materials class. Vision Sciences Society (VSS). Florida, USA. May, 2020.

  • Hurlbert, A., van Zuijlen, M.J.P. , Spoiala, C., Wijntjes, M.W.A. Painting the time of day: colour determines perceived circadian phase in visual art. The Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC). Trieste, Italy. August, 2018.


Understanding human recognition of material properties for innovation, postdoc 2021 - current
@ Kyoto University.
A large project to further our understanding of shitsukan, the Japanese word meaning the 'the sense of quality'. The term can loosly be understood to refer to material perception, but is a more broad interpreation relative to western views.
Visual Communication of Material Properties, PhD2017 - 4 years
@ Delft University of Technology.
A multidiciplinary project in which we studied painterly depictions of materials to generate perceptual insights. We developed and analyzed of a large-scale annotated material depiction database containing 20k+ paintings, with 300k+ segmentations and millions of user-generated datapoints. For the collection of perceptual data, I have created a large variety of online experiments and interfaces, ranging from complex polygonal segmentation tasks to simple change blindness paradigms .
Lab visit 6 months
@ Cornell University.
A focus on updating and adapting a system to collect millions of responses over the internet.


Applied Cognitive Psychology, MSc 2015 - 1 year
@ Utrecht University.
A Masters that focused on human congition and information processing in healthy humans, learning to apply knowledge of human congition, sensory and motor systems into real-life sutations and applications.
Intership 8 months
@ Philips Research.
Digitalizaiton of traditional pen-and-paper tests used for cognitive neurodiagnostical assessment. In this project I devised my own research questions, and I designed and piloted my own experiments.
Intership 3 months
@ Utrecht University.
Validation and comparison study of a low-cost electrophysiological measurement tool. I wanted to gain more experience using EEG and EMG as a research tool. As such, I approached the university with a research proposal to do a comparison study of the universitities state-of-the-art system ( > 75.000 euro) to a low-cost ( > 1000 euro), consumer-grade anlternative EEG/EMG system.
Cognitive Neurobiological Psychology, BSc 2012 - 3 year
@ Utrecht University.
A bachelor focused on reseraching the relation between cognition and behavior, while teaching the role and biology of the human brain.
Bachelor thesis 6 months
@ Utrecht University.
Using virtual reality to measure the effect of fear on perceived distance within personal space.

Contact me!

Yoshidahonmachi, Sakyo ku, Kyoto, Japan.

Email: mitchellvanzuijlen -at- gmail -dot- com