Raymond Pavloski, Psychology Department chair, will present “Visual Experiences and Their Neural Substrate as Parts of a Dynamic Whole” in the Brown Bag Discussion on Wednesday, September 26, 2012, from 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. in Uhler Hall, Room 111. This talk will anticipate his upcoming trip to Europe to present his work.
A century of Gestalt Psychology has provided clear demonstrations of the grounding of visual phenomena in neural dynamics. Over the same period of time, we have learned that phenomenal vision depends on specific interactions within and among neural networks. However, we have not found a way to deal with the epistemological gap that stands between perceptual organization and the neural interactions on which it depends. I previously proposed that making progress on this issue would be facilitated by a formal model, the abstract elements of which encompass and bridge the phenomenal and the neural. This presentation applies category theory to the results of neural network simulations in order to show that network dynamics can bring a stable algebra of relations among neural information states into existence, and that a pattern of information states and their relations can describe the organization of a gestalt. A goal for future research is the construction of networks in which gestalts are invariant over the kinds of geometric transformations that take place as a physical object is imaged on the retina. Such models would be consistent with research demonstrating that the global nature of perceptual organization can be described in terms of invariants over such transformations. A means of testing these models using visualization of large-scale brain simulations is suggested.
Department of Psychology