MEMORY is an innovative and ambitious project of measurement and modelling of the dynamics of multidimensional perception of space and time with a cross-disciplinary line of attack that combines direct psychophysical and electrophysiological measurements with real-world modelling and novel wireless communication and sensing technologies.
When we view the world around us, we observe a stable image, despite frequent rapid body and eye movements. How the brain accomplishes this interpretation remains only partially understood, although it is known to involve short-lived perceptual distortions of space and time. The aim of MEMORY is to explore this complex mechanism and to reproduce it on a distributed computer system.
The project builds on recent psychophysical and neurophysiological findings showing that as humans and animals move their eyes, their visual systems are subject to strong and robust (albeit transient) distortions of perceived space and time. It has been suggested, with strong supporting evidence, that these distortions may be relativistic-like consequences of the rapid remapping of neurones, necessary to compensate for the changes in retinal position produced by the eye movement. We plan to investigate and measure these phenomena with a multidisciplinary approach that combines the techniques of human psychophysics, functional magnetic imaging, animal neurophysiology and modelling within a Networked Control System (NCS).
The cross-disciplinary line of attack aims at developing a holistic, multimodal and multidimensional model that will enable us to reproduce the relativistic-like effect in NCS and to understand the mechanisms of visual stability. The final goal is the definition of an integrated environment that combines perceptual with virtual cyberworld information, obtained from NCS.
The most tangible project objectives are:
i) Advanced measurements of the dynamics of perception, particularly at the time of rapid eye-movements, which will lead to a refinement of current theory, and explain the illusory but robust psychophysical effects that accompany eye movements: a compression of spatial relationships and apparent time (possibly reflecting a dilation of the internal clock).
ii) Application of special relativity theory for novel modelling of compression of space and time, and studies of how the brain/control-system could implement such dynamic activity.
iii) A Networked Control Systems model of the perceptual phenomena, particularly visual stability.
iv) A fully integrated perceptual world and virtual cyberworld model, where the physical measurements can be integrated by virtual cyberworld measurements.
The MEMORY approach will develop a common framework of measurement techniques for the neurosciences, pervasive computing, communications and robotics. It will also be appropriate for advancing the measurement of other multidimensional phenomena mediated by human interpretation and perception.