Science of Intelligence (SCIoI)

Martin is part of the highly interdisciplinary group of PIs involved in the preparation of the pre-application for an Excellence Cluster Science of Intelligence (short: SCIoI). Over the last year, we have worked in a group of >20 PIs from fields across a broad range of  disciplines (biology, computer vision, educational research, philosophy, physics, psychology, robotics, sociology, …), and crafted an intriguing proposal. The aim of this inspiring endeavour is to forge a new discipline — the science of intelligence — which systematically bridges analytical and synthetic disciplines. The Technical University Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin have co-submitted the pre-application to the DFG in March. We are excited to hear about a possible invitation to the second round of applications by the end of September. Stay tuned!

For more information, check our website: http://www.scienceofintelligence.de/.

In press: New paper on feature-based attention and saccadic eye movements.

Betty’s paper on the continuity of feature-based attention across saccadic eye movements has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Vision. Congratulations, Betty!

A pdf of the preprint is available here. And here is the abstract:

Saccadic eye movements do not disrupt the deployment of feature-based attention

The tight link of saccades to covert spatial attention has been firmly established, yet their relation to other forms of visual selection remains poorly understood. Here, we studied the temporal dynamics of feature-based attention (FBA) during fixation and across saccades. Participants reported the orientation (on a continuous scale) of one of two sets of spatially interspersed Gabors (black or white). We tested performance at different intervals between the onset of a colored cue (black or white, indicating which stimulus was the most probable target; red: neutral condition) and the stimulus. FBA built up after cue onset: benefits (errors for valid vs neutral cues), costs (invalid vs neutral), and the overall cueing effect (valid vs invalid) increased with the cue-stimulus interval. Critically, we also tested visual performance at different intervals after a saccade, when FBA had been fully deployed before saccade initiation. Cueing effects were evident immediately after the saccade and predicted most accurately and most precisely by fully-deployed FBA, indicating that FBA was continuous throughout saccades. Finally, a decomposition of orientation reports into target reports and random guesses confirmed continuity of report precision and guess rates across the saccade. We discuss the role of FBA in perceptual continuity across saccades.

Kalogeropoulou, Z. & Rolfs, M. (2017). Saccadic eye movements do not disrupt the deployment of feature-based attention. Journal of Vision, in press

Clara moderates panel discussion on Animal Research

Clara Kuper, student assistant in our lab, will moderate a panel and audience discussion on animal research and its ethical implications on April 24, 2017. The discussion will feature a number of first-class experts on animal research and welfare, including:

Prof. Dr. Stefan Treue, Director of the German Primate Research Centre, Göttingen
Prof. Dr. Christa Thöne-Reineke, Professor for Animal Welfare, Animal Behavior and Laboratory Animal Science, FU Berlin
Dr. Richard Moore, Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist, HU Berlin
Dr. Mimi Arandjelovic, Project coordinator of the Pan African Programme, MPI Leipzig

The official poster (including more information) can be downloaded here.

Way to go, Clara!

Richard receives VSS 2017 student travel award

Congratulations to our very own Richard Schweitzer for being awarded a student travel award to attend the meeting of the Vision Sciences Society Meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida, in May. The award is extremely competitive as only 20 out of more than 200 applicants have been selected. Quite a good start into his first VSS!

Make sure to attend Richard’s talk in the Eye Movements: Fixation and perception session, on Tuesday, May 23 (8:15 am – 9:45 am) in Talk Room 2.

VSS 2017: 3 talks, 1 poster, and 1 student travel award

We were very excited to get the news that 3 of our 4 presentations have been accepted as talks at the 2017 meeting of the Vision Sciences Society in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Partly in collaboration with Tamara Watson (University of Western Sydney, Australia) and Eric Castet (Aix-Marseille Université, France), we started working on visual processing during saccadic eye movements, which will be the main theme of our contributions this year. We are looking forward to see what people think about this new line of work.

In particular we are happy for Richard Schweitzer, who just started his PhD in the lab. He was selected for a highly competitive VSS Student Travel Award to support his trip to this year’s meeting. Congratulations!

Opinion article on Oculomotor prediction in psychosis in press in TiCS

Together with Katy Thakkar (Michigan State University) and Vaibhav Diwadkar (Wayne State University), we just wrote an opinion piece on the role of corollary discharge in psychosis, and how prediction in the oculomotor system may help us understand the complex polygenic disorder schizophrenia. The review is going to be published in one of the next issues of Trends in Cognitive Sciences. For now, here is the abstract:

Psychosis—an impaired contact with reality—is a hallmark of schizophrenia. Many psychotic symptoms are associated with disruptions in agency—the sense that I cause my actions. A failure to predict sensory consequences of one’s own actions may underlie agency disturbances. Such predictions rely on corollary discharge (CD) signals, “copies” of movement commands sent to sensory regions prior to action execution. Here, we make a case that the oculomotor system is a promising model for understanding CD in psychosis, building on advances in our understanding of the behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of CD associated with eye movements. We provide an overview of recent evidence for disturbed oculomotor CD in schizophrenia, potentially linking bizarre and disturbing psychotic experiences with basic physiological processes.

New paper: Oculomotor inhibition covaries with conscious detection

Congratulations to Alex White, whose postdoc project just appeared in the Journal of Neurophysiology! The key finding of this paper is that the pattern of miniature eye movements immediately following the appearance of a stimulus—the reflexive inhibition of so-called microsaccades—reveals whether the observer has seen that stimulus or not. To some extent, this subjective perception can even be decoded from the eye movement patterns on a single-trial level.

Here is the New & Noteworthy section of the paper:

The eyes freeze in response to stimulus onsets. We developed a novel method to compare the sensitivity of this involuntary reflex to that of explicit perceptual detection. The two responses had similar contrast thresholds and were similarly affected by pattern adaptation. They also covaried across individual trials: the eyes froze if and only if the observer reported seeing a stimulus, even when none was present. Oculomotor inhibition therefore rapidly reveals the state of conscious perception.

Workshop on Learning at the Interface of Vision and Oculomotor Control

On September 20-21, 2016, we will host a workshop on
Learning at the interface of vision and oculomotor control
It will be a satellite event of the Bernstein Conference.

Program:
An overview of the program is available here.

Abstract:
Motor control and sensorimotor integration have long been of outstanding interest for their fundamental theoretical and empirical contributions to neuroscience. Elegant behavioral, computational, and physiological studies have revealed that skilled sensorimotor function builds on experience acquired over timescales from milliseconds to a lifetime. In spite of being one of the most thriving fields of research, interactions with another core neuroscience area—the impact of self-movement on perception—remain largely unaddressed to date. In particular, research on the acquisition and maintenance of perceptual continuity across rapid movements of the eyes (saccades) has eluded comparable degree of detail and still lacks detailed mechanistic formulation. This workshop aims to bridge these differences, advancing new perspectives on how insights from sensorimotor learning may help understand transsaccadic visual processes.

To this end, we bring together behavioral, theoretical, and biological insights from eight innovative researchers, each well known for their inspiring contributions to sensorimotor control or transsaccadic visual learning. Our aim is to facilitate and inspire the transfer of knowledge between these largely disparate fields of study. Structured discussions will put particular emphasis on possible conceptual and computational links between the latest psychophysical and neurophysiological findings. We expect two major outcomes of this workshop. First, its dual focus will promote interaction between the fields of sensorimotor learning and the perceptual consequences manifested in transsaccadic recalibration, integration, and learning. Second, bringing together leading experts among physiologists, computational modelers, and psychophysicists will help establish constraints on current theories and models, explore their validity in novel domains, stimulate formulation of new hypothesis, and identify missing experiments that may falsify existing accounts.

Venue:
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Seminargebäude am Hegelplatz
Dorotheenstr. 24
10117 Berlin, Germany
Link to Google maps.

Registration:
Online registration will be open until September 12th here. On site registration is possible on the day of the workshop.

Please note that the room has a limited number of seats (about 50) — if more participants register for the workshop, participation will be possible on first come, first serve basis.

 

Tutorial:  Motor learning: An overview of methods and models
The workshop will also feature an added tutorial given by David Herzfeld from John Hopkins University in the morning of Tuesday 20th September (9:30 am) at the same venue. All registered workshop participants are welcome to participate in this tutorial, but the available number of seats will be limited.

Abstract for the tutorial:
The study of motor learning seeks to answer a fundamental question: how does the nervous system learn from a motor error? The experience of even a single movement error results in adaptation, suggesting that the motor system is constantly engaged in the process of learning. In this tutorial we begin with behavior – how do healthy subjects learn to compensate for a constant perturbation? Using studies from saccade adaptation, force-field learning, and visuomotor rotation, we will then assess a number of behavioral assays including error-sensitivity, generalization, savings, meta-learning, and implicit/explicit processes. Emphasis will be placed on mathematical models of these phenomena, including multi-rate models, the Kalman filter, a memory of errors, and models of generalization. When possible, we will describe studies suggesting the specific brain regions involved in motor learning, focusing on cerebellar contributions to adaptation.

David generously allowed us to upload the slides of his tutorial here.

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