Visual Perception of the Physical Properties of Objects
Research in my lab focusses on how the brain visually estimates the physical and functional properties of objects in our surroundings.
When we look at things, we don't experience the world as a meaningless jumble of lines, colours or motions. Instead, whenever we open our eyes, we immediately gain access to a richly detailed world of meaningful visual sensations. We recognise objects; perceive what things are made of; identify risk and pleasures and can even work out how objects might respond to forces or actions. Based on how things look, we are able to make a remarkable range of subtle judgements about the physical properties of objects, such as whether food is fresh or stale or whether an object is stable or likely to topple over. Without touching an object, we can usually work out what it would feel like were we to reach out and touch it, based on the curves and contours of its shape and the way light plays across its surface. My research program aims to understand how the brain estimates the 3D shape of surfaces, and the material properties of objects such as elasticity, translucency or viscosity. In order to do this, we use a combination of computer graphics, image analysis techniques, neural modelling and psychophysical experiments.
Keywords: 3D Shape | Material Perception | Perceptual Organization | Object Categorization | Naive Physics | Computer Graphics
Marie Curie Initial Training Network
I am coordinating an international research and training network, funded by the EU. PRISM is a consortium that brings together nine leading academic and industrial partners from across Europe to understand how the brain represents the physical properties of objects, surfaces and lighting in the surrounding world. Find out more at the PRISM website.
NSF-BMBF Joint Program in Computational Neuroscience (FKZ: 01GQ1111)
Role: PI Project Title: "Towards a Neural Theory of 3D Shape Perception" Co-PI: Prof. Steven Zucker, Dept. Computer Science, Yale University
Bernstein Centre for Computational Neuroscience, Tübingen (FKZ: 01GQ1002)
Role: PI Project title: "Population Codes for 3D Shape Perception". Project Collaborator: Dr. Georgios Keleris.
Australian Research Council.
Role: PI Project title: "The perception of surfaces and materials." CI: Prof. Bart Anderson; co-PI: Dr. Juno Kim. School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Australia.
Wellcome Trust (UK).
Role: Co-PI. Project title: "On reflection: the role of disparities in the estimation of shape from specular surfaces" Co-PI: Dr. Andrew Welchman Collaborator: Prof. Andrew Blake, FRS, FREng.
2006 - 2009: BW-FIT (State of Baden-Württemberg).
Role: PI. Consortium title: "Information at your fingertips" Project title: "Tracking and predicting gaze direction of a freely moving observer interacting with a large high resolution display" Collaborator: Prof. Oliver Deussen, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Konstanz.
2006 - 2009: DFG (German Research Foundation): FL 624/1-1
Role: PI. Consortium title: "Perceptual Graphics" Project title: "Human visual perception and classification of materials". Collaborator: Prof. Reinhard Klein, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Bonn.