Vision is central to our interactions with the world. Aside from recognizing faces and communicating with people, our daily activities are also organized around two fundamental tasks: recognizing our environment and navigating through it. The research program of Dr. Aude Oliva constitutes a new integration of behavioral, computational and cognitive neuroscience research on scene perception. A growing body of evidence from behavioral, imaging and computational investigations has shown that the perception of complex real-world scenes engages distinct cognitive and neural mechanisms from those engaged in object recognition. To date, however, this evidence has not resulted in a comprehensive framework for understanding scene processing. Here, the PI proposes to test the novel hypothesis that real-world scene analysis is performed in a network of distinctive brain regions, with each region specialized in representing a different level of scene information. Since scenes are inherently three-dimensional spaces, she will show that the brain capitalizes on information uniquely derived from the space encompassed by a scene, rather than an exclusively object-based description. In other words, before knowing the "gist of a scene," we analyze the "gist of the space." Understanding the nature of the brain's representations of visual scenes is an enterprise that will push the development of fast and reliable rehabilitation strategies for individuals with visual and spatial impairments, and push forward the development of aid-based systems that rely on an understanding of the visual space. Real-world scene recognition is an unsolved mystery that will have implications for neuroscience, computational vision, artificial intelligence, robotics and psychology.

Public Health Relevance

The research program constitutes a new integration of computational and cognitive neuroscience research on scene and space perception, with the aim of unraveling how the understanding of visual environments (where we are, where to navigate) arises in the human brain.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01EY020484-03
Application #
8416357
Study Section
Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
Program Officer
Steinmetz, Michael A
Project Start
2011-01-01
Project End
2015-12-31
Budget Start
2013-01-01
Budget End
2013-12-31
Support Year
3
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$389,686
Indirect Cost
$152,186
Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department
Other Basic Sciences
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
001425594
City
Cambridge
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02139
Park, Soojin; Konkle, Talia; Oliva, Aude (2015) Parametric Coding of the Size and Clutter of Natural Scenes in the Human Brain. Cereb Cortex 25:1792-805
Cichy, Radoslaw Martin; Pantazis, Dimitrios; Oliva, Aude (2014) Resolving human object recognition in space and time. Nat Neurosci 17:455-62