RuCCS Colloquia

From Sensation to Conception (talk recording available)
Professor Robert Jacobs
University of Rochester, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Computer Science and the Center for Visual Science

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In recent years, my lab has focused on three (related) research topics: visual working memory, sensory cue integration, and abstract mental representations of objects and events. In this talk, I’ll concentrate on the latter topic. Two research projects have studied abstract (i.e., modalityindependent) mental representations of objects shared by vision and haptics (active touch). One project proposed a theoretical framework for how modality-independent object representations can be inferred from sensory signals, and found evidence favoring the framework by comparing its predictions with behavioral data. A second project used human brain imaging (fMRI) to obtain data indicating that neural region lateral occipital cortex (LOC) encodes object shape in a modality-independent manner, and also encodes object shape in a part-based format. A third project used our theoretical framework to argue that object representations are 3D, objectcentered, and arise from an inference process. We found that an implementation of our framework produces viewpoint-dependent visual recognition (despite the use of object-centered representations), and predicts people’s visual shape similarity judgments significantly better than a wide variety of other computational models. Finally, a fourth project provided behavioral evidence that perceptual training on a timing task produces benefits that transfer to motor production timing, suggesting that there is an abstract mental representation of time shared by perception and motor action.

Relevant readings:

  1. Goker Erdogan , Ilker Yildirim, Robert A. Jacobs (2015) - From Sensory Signals to ModalityIndependent Conceptual Representations: A Probabilistic Language of Thought Approach
  2. Goker Erdogan, Quanjing Chen, Frank E. Garcea, Bradford Z. Mahon, and Robert A. Jacobs (2016) - Multisensory Part-based Representations of Objects in Human Lateral Occipital Cortex

The RuCCS Colloquia Series is organized by Dr. Manish Singh. The talks are held on Tuesdays in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on the Busch Campus from 1:00-2:30pm.

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