Neural mechanisms of perceptual inference
Our perception is not simply a copy of the sensory stimuli we receive, but an abstract interpretation of the world. Complex processing mechanisms, which combine the information of the sensory stimuli with specific knowledge about the physical properties of the world, enable this interpretation.
An impressive illustration for this are Magic Eye pictures. From these abstract 2D patterns the brain reconstructs a 3rd dimension which we experience as depth perception. Such artificial examples demonstrate the specific inference capacities of the brain that are performed continuously in our everyday life, without us ever noticing. For example, we recognize objects and their properties independently of light condition or arrangement. In order to perform such inferences, relevant and persistent structures and patterns must be extracted from very complex datasets. The fact that our brain is able to do this apparently effortlessly is even more remarkable when one considers that no computer algorithm exists with nearly that capacity.
At the Bernstein Center Tübingen, scientists from various disciplines, including theoretical and experimental neurobiology, machine learning, and medicine, collaborate in order to analyze the basis of these inference processes in the brain. In particular, a main research goal is to understand the coordinated interaction of neurons during information processing. Through medical and technological advances, this interdisciplinary center aims to make important contributions to society.
The BCCN Tübingen integrates projects at the following research institutions in Tübingen:
It further involves collaborations with international partners from the following research institutions:
The research program of the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Tuebingen is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; FKZ: 01GQ1002).
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