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Research Statement

 

    We scan the visual world via ballistic eye movements, sampling different regions of a scene as quickly as 3-4 times per second. Within each glimpse visual acuity drops dramatically the farther the image falls from the fovea. This raises questions: What is gleaned from each glimpse of the world? How does it become integrated with prior input? Do vision and touch solve the ‘integration problem’ in similar ways? In spite of physiological constraints we do somehow experience a continuous, coherent visual world and have the capacity to accurately remember many aspects of that world.

 

    However, consistent errors also occur in memory. Errors are usually thought of as maladaptive, however, certain types of errors may play a positive role.  One such example, discovered in our lab, is boundary extension.  Viewers remember having seen a greater expanse of a scene than was actually shown. Anticipatory representation of likely layout may rapidly incorporate a view within its larger context and may facilitate integration of successive views through priming. This may hold for haptic perception (without vision) as well. Scene representation is not limited to current and immediately preceding inputs, but also appears to involve anticipatory projections about the immediate future. Research in our lab include studies of: scene perception and memory, effects of planned fixations on representation, representation of occluded objects and surfaces, visual and haptic representation of space, and spatial imagination.