MaxPlanckResearch Reports - Articles of our department
Human Multisensory Perception
For perceiving the environment our brain uses multiple sources of sensory information derived from several different modalities, including vision, touch and audition. Some sources of sensory information derived from different modalities provide information about the same object property or event. For example, the size of an object can both be seen with the eyes and felt with the hands. This is called redundant sources of sensory information. In this report we will show how such redundant sources of sensory information are used by the human brain in order to interact with the environment in a purposive fashion. Further, we describe which role prior knowledge plays concerning the statistical regularities in the world and how this can affect the process of perception. As a model for describing such somatosensory interactions we apply the Bayesian Decision Theory (BDT).
Interdisciplinary Research in Perception
How do we recognize objects? How do we interpret facial expressions? Can we teach computers to see and understand? In this article, we present several research areas of the department "Human Perception, Cognition and Action" of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. The department employs methods from computer vision, computer graphics, and psychophysics in order to understand fundamental processes in perception and cognition.
Human-Robot Interaction by Shared Autonomy
Robots acquire information from the environment, process it and then use it to autonomously perform tasks. A big challenge is to have robots and humans cooperate effectively in our every day’s life. To realize this vision the role of humans must be taken into account. Robot design and control must be conceived to meet the human needs and facilitate the interaction. Our research efforts are guided by these principles and aimed at realizing semi-autonomous robotic systems able to perform local tasks – supervised by a human – on their own in a so-called shared control scenario.
How memory is built during sleep
A new method allows gaining insights into the widespread network activity of the brain. The method combines electrophysiological recordings from multi-contact electrodes with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the entire brain. The methodology was applied to identify the brain areas that consistently increased or decreased their activity in relationship to hippocampal episodic memory related events, known as ripples. The findings provide new insights into the system mechanisms of memory consolidation, which can be studied in more detail in the future.
Can you tell me how to reach my goal? Social and spatial cognition in interaction
In everyday life knowledge about space and the social behavior of others interact, for example, when asking someone for route directions. Prior research mainly considered these processes as separate from each other. Tobias Meilinger and Stephan de la Rosa together with their research group from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics examine social and spatial cognition and their interactions in order to better understand everyday human behavior.
Holistic perception of faces and objects
We cannot process any individual feature in a face without the other parts of the face influencing our perception. So far, this so-called holistic perception had been demonstrated mostly with static faces (images) or with objects that we know very well. However, the Max-Planck scientists have shown that dynamic faces and unknown objects (displaying specific properties) are also perceived holistically. Their results pose a challenge to current dominant theories about holistic processing.