Funded by a five-year European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, this project examines how the brain constructs a stable and continuous percept of the world from sensory information.

The foundation of lived experience is that it occurs in a particular space and time. Objects, events and actions happen in the present moment in a unified space which surrounds our body (James, 1890; Husserl, 1928). As noted by Immanuel Kant (1781/1997), space and time are a priori concepts that organize our thoughts and experiences. Yet, the way in which our minds construct this experience of space and time remains one of the main mysteries of the study of human cognition. Sensory information must be combined across different spatial reference frames and temporal scales. In terms of space, information from each sense is encoded in a particular reference frame, such as the location on the retina for vision. Auditory information is based on head-centered coordinates, while touch informs us only about the local location in which objects contact our skin. Likewise, temporal integration is not a unitary process. Temporal integration of sensory information within the brain takes place at multiple time scales

The over-arching aim of this project is to define the mechanisms underlying spatiotemporal perception of objects, events and scenes. This involves bringing together diverse phenomena-- previously studied separately in areas such as sensory neuroscience, active vision, cognitive psychology and multisensory perception-- in order to build a unified theory of perceptual space-time starting from first principles.

European Research Council

Besides the CoPeST project, click here to see other work by David Melcher's Active Perception Lab: MAP.