How are the various senses integrated to create a coherent percept? How do mechanisms of attention select only the relevant parts of this information? How does this information contribute to motor control? How does this process enable us to interact with the environment? These are the fundamental questions addressed under the theme of perception and attention.

Our approach to the study of these concepts is grounded in psychophysics but includes electrophysiology, brain imaging, neuropsychology, transcranial magnetic stimulation, cognitive modeling, and computer science. Specific research projects in this area investigate, for example, how the brain constructs a stable and continuous percept of the world from sensory information and the role of attention, action and memory in this process; the neural mechanisms of multisensory perception and attention; behavioral and neural correlates of deafness and cochlear implants; the mechanisms by which attention modulates sensory input; the role of attention in the processing of objects in natural scenes and socially relevant stimuli such as faces and bodies; the brain-behavior principles governing multisensory integration and plasticity in typical individuals and in specific populations; the individuation and identification of the relevant objects presented in a cluttered scene; the interaction between attention, awareness, and reinforcement signals; the role of subjective judgments on colour, sound and shape appearances in perception and in experimental aesthetics; the perception of action, motor responses and intentions; how stimuli are selected for awareness and the functional relation between awareness, functional network architectures that predispose certain behaviours (e.g. conscious percept of near-threshold stimuli); behavioral effects of visible and invisible stimuli; the temporal dynamics between stimulus-saliency and goal-driven selection strategies; and plasticity in perception and selection as a product of reinforcement and experience.

The applied aspect of our research includes the study of plasticity following partial or complete sensory-loss (e.g., blindness, macular degeneration, deafness) and sensory-reafferentation (cochlear implants), neurological diseases affecting perception and action (e.g., hemineglect, apraxia, Parkinson’s disease), as well as the use of neurocognitive models to guide the development of new products, and in the areas of cognitive ergonomics and human-computer interactions.

PIs working in this area

Attention, Learning and Motivation Group  | P.I. Massimo Turatto
Attention Networks Group | P.I.Daniel Baldauf
Attention, Perception and Aging Group | P.I. Veronica Mazza
Brain and Cognitive Development Group – BCD Group | P.I Eugenio Parise
Cognition Across the Senses - CATS | P.I. Francesco Pavani
Enactive Brain Group | Christoph Huber-Huber
Motor Control Group   | P.I. Luca Turella
Multisensory Research Group | P.I. Massimiliano Zampini
Object Vision Group | P.I. Stefania Bracci
Perception to Concepts Group - Per2Con | P.I. Manuela Piazza