Behavior is a key component of sensory perception; it enables control of input sensory signals in ways that simplify perceptual tasks. Yet studies in visual neuroscience and computer vision often isolate perception from motor activity by passively presenting visual stimuli. In this talk, I will give an overview of ongoing research projects in the Active Perception Laboratory, an interdisciplinary facility dedicated to the analysis of the perceptual functions of behavior in biological and artificial systems. Research in the Active Perception Laboratory integrates experiments in visual psychophysics with the development of computational models of the brain and their embodiment in robotic systems. To provide a concrete example of the profound influence of motor activity on human vision, I will focus on the most common, yet elusive, visual behavior: the minute oculomotor activity which, during visual fixation, keeps the image on the retina in constant motion. I will describe an ecological theory of visual processing with fixational eye movements and summarize the results of experiments based on predictions from this theory.
Dr Michele Rucci
Departments of Psychology and Biomedical Engineering, and Program in Neuroscience, Boston University
Michele Rucci is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. He received his Laurea and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Florence and the Scuola Superiore S. Anna in Pisa, respectively. Before joining Boston University, he was a Fellow in Computational Neuroscience at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego. At Boston University, Dr. Rucci founded and directs the Active Perception Laboratory, a facility dedicated to the analysis of the perceptual influences of behavior. Dr.Rucci's research follows an interdisciplinary approach that integrates experiments in visual psychophysics with computational models of the brain and the embodiment of neuronal models in robotic systems. His work has raised specific hypotheses regarding the influences of eye movements during visual development and in the neural encoding of visual information. This research has also demonstrated the involvement of fixational eye movements in fine spatial vision, produced a new system for experimental studies of visual neuroscience, and led to the development of robots directly controlled by models of the brain.