Tonja Machulla

Alumni of the Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action
Alumni of the Research Group Multisensory Perception and Action

Main Focus

I study the temporal relationships between different sense modalities (audition, vision, and touch), using psychophysical methods.

This research was funded by the SFB 550 "Recognizing, localizing, acting: Neurocognitive mechanisms and their flexibility" and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Cluster C "Perceptual Inference Mechanisms".

Multisensory timing

Humans perceive their environment through different sensory modalities. An approaching train can be seen, heard, and even felt through the vibrations of the ground.

At the level of sensory receptors, these sensory channels are independent of each other. However, they soon converge on multisensory processing sites, as early as in the brain stem. Our brain faces the continual challenge of identifying which sensory signal corresponds with which across the different modalities.

In my dissertation, I investigate the role that temporal information plays in this binding process. In particular, I study:

  • how relative differences in physical and physiological time are compensated for (e.g., light travels faster than sound)
  • how changes in the environment that modify the temporal relationship of sensory signals can be compensated for, and
  • whether the perceived timing of multisensory information is determined by a supramodal mechanism.

The overarching research goal is to model mechanisms of multimodal timing perception.

Curriculum Vitae

I studied Psychology (Dipl. Psych.) at Martin Luther University, Halle. From 2003-2005, I spent 4 semesters at New School University, New York, as a Fulbright and a German National Academic Foundation scholar. There, I received an M.A. (hons.) in General Psychology for my work with Dr. Arien Mack on inattentional blindness. During the same time, I worked at the Center for Cognition and Communication as a cognitive rehabilitation therapist for patients with traumatic brain injury.

Currently, I am a doctoral candidate with Prof. Marc Ernst.

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