The Center for Perceptual Systems (CPS) is an interdisciplinary program at the University of Texas that provides a focal point for research and training in sensory systems. Continued growth in the Neurosciences at UT, as well as in CPS, particularly in the area of vision research, has lead to the development of a distinctive group in the Center that has a broad interdisciplinary research program in vision, representing psychophysical, neurophysiological, imaging, and computational approaches. Additionally, we have distinctive expertise and resources for the investigation of vision in the context of natural environments, and the development of computational tools for neural modeling and for modeling visually guided behavior. Because of both our broad expertise and our special strengths in these areas we are well positioned to train new scientists who will be at the forefront of vision research in the future. There are three important components to our training focus. First, we take advantage of the highly interdisciplinary and collaborative structure of CPS to provide broad cross- disciplinary training, which we consider essential for students of vision and visual performance. Second, we believe that training in computational methods is an essential component of research in vision and we take advantage of our particular strengths in this area. Third, we take advantage of our strengths in the area of natural systems analysis to provide a unique training opportunity in an area that is becoming increasingly important for a broad understanding of vision. These components lie at the core of our program, which includes basic courses, specialized seminars, training in advanced methodologies, attendance at the CPS colloquium series and the CPS symposium on Natural Environments, Tasks, and Intelligence, ethics training, and the development of professional skills.
The goal of this proposal is to train pre- and post-doctoral scholars in vision, visual neuroscience and visually guided behavior. The program emphasizes the study of natural environments, natural tasks, and neural computation, and takes advantage of our special strengths in these areas. We believe that the study of vision in its natural context is highly valuable because it generalizes more readily to clinical issues than restricted laboratory experiments, and provides a body of comparable data in normal populations. Students training in our program will have a suitable background for future work in clinical populations as they will learn a variety of relevant techniques such as eye tracking in unrestricted behavior and use of virtual environments, as well as developing a sound in background computational methods and in the neural basis of visually guided behavior.
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