The World in our Heads

The World in our Heads

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.

Groups within the Department

We can easily recognize and categorize objects at different levels depending on task requirements. An animal can be recognized as belonging to a category such as “a dog” (categorization) or as “my dog Bashi” (identification). Among all categories of objects, faces constitute a very special class because of their social importance and their high intra-group similarity. Therefore, the RECCAT group mainly focuses on the perception of faces, with an added interest for the perception of human bodies and other objects. [more]
In the CAPA group, we investigate human manual control behavior in order to increase our understanding of how humans use information perceived from their environment to generate control actions. This knowledge can be used to better support humans when performing control tasks, such as steering a vehicle. [more]
The subjective experience of locomotion, i.e. the displacement of a human observer through the environment, is what we call self-motion. To fully comprehend this pervasive experience, we take a two-fold approach. 1. We carry out fundamental research to investigate human perception of self-motion; 2. We develop state-of-the-art motion simulation technologies and algorithms. Ultimately, these two research directions build upon each other. [more]

Former Research groups

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