Human Perception, Cognition and Action - The World in our Heads

Department Bülthoff
The department is concerned with the fundamental processes of human perception. The primary issues are how objects are remembered in the brain so that humans can recognize and manipulate them as well as how the information from different sense organs is integrated to create a consistent representation of the “world in the head”.

Traditional psychophysics methods are combined with the most up-to-date computer graphics and Virtual Reality systems to research “algorithms of perception”. Psychophysics addresses the mathematical description of associations between physical stimuli and the perceptions they trigger in humans. The use of computer simulations and realistic virtual environments to carry out psychophysical experiments maximizes the possibility of dynamic feedback and interactivity. At the same time, this approach allows complete control over all the aspects of the simulation to reach accurate conclusions about human perception.

The research focuses on object and face recognition, the perception of space, the integration of information from the visual, haptic and balance senses and, based on the results of research into perception, on the development of efficient algorithms for machine vision and computer graphics. The technical equipment for investigating these questions includes hardware such as movement simulators, projection screens for virtual environments, 3D scanners to record the geometry of objects and 3D printers to make objects generated on the computer. The software includes a comprehensive 3D database of morphable faces and facial expressions, which was developed here in the department, and a library for the simulation of virtual environments.

Research Groups of the Department

Recognition and Categorization
Cognition & Control in Human-Machine Systems

We can easily and flexibly recognize objects at different levels depending on the task requirements. The goal of the group Recognition and Categorization (RECCAT) is to unravel the mechanisms underlying these two kinds of seemingly effortless tasks that we perform continuously.[more]


We investigate how humans process information, relevant for the effective control of machine systems, such as vehicles. Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster[more]
Cybernetics Approach to Perception and Action
Autonomous Robotics and Human-Machine Systems

We investigate human manual control to understand how humans use information perceived from the environment to generate control actions and how we can support humans in a control task. [more]

The aim of the group is to study novel control strategies for autonomous machines (robots) that are able to sense the environment, reason about it, take actions to perform some tasks, and possibly cooperate with humans.[more]
Motion Perception and Simulation
Social and Spatial Cognition

When we move through the environment, a variety of perceptual processes contributes to the perception of our self-motion. In the Motion Perception and Simulation research group we study those processes.Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster[more]

Humans actively explore and interact with their social and spatial environment. Specialized cognitive structures in the human brain have evolved for doing so. Although these structures are often believed to be unrelated they likely influence each other.Opens internal link in current window[more]

Last updated: Friday, 15.07.2016