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Perceptual, Contextual, and Cross-modal Learning in Hearing and Vision

Project Acronym: Learn 2 Hear & See.
Duration: 01/05/2010-31/10/2013.
Project Number: 247543.
Call (part) identifier: FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES.
Topic: MC-IRSES – International research staff exchange scheme (IRSES).


Humans and other living organisms are constantly exposed to new stimuli and environments. In order to correctly respond in such situations, they must recalibrate their perceptual processing in new environments and learn to recognize new stimuli and situations. The current project proposes to use behavioral experiments, brain imaging, and computational modeling to study the processes of learning and calibration in 1) auditory distance perception in human listeners and 2) visual spatial perception. A series of behavioral experiments will study 1) how human listeners recalibrate their auditory processing in order to correctly perceive distance of sound sources, how they consolidate and memorize the new calibrations, and how is vision used in the calibration process, and 2) the relationship between perceptual and contextual learning. Imaging studies will analyze the brain areas important for auditory distance perception and the time course of learning and calibration, as well as the structures influenced by perceptual and contextual learning. Finally, models of 1) auditory distance perception and of 2) perceptual and congtextual learning will be proposed with stress on the mechanisms of learning and calibration. These results are important, e.g., for development of new prosthetic devices and new virtual reality technologies. An important goal of the proposal is to obtain new knowledge and skills related to studying human perceptual processes. Skills to perform sensory learning research, visual psychophysics using eye-tracking, noninvasive brain imaging (EEG and fMRI), and computational modeling will be exchanged during the stays. The skills will help in development of computation and cognitive neuroscience in new EU member countries (Slovakia), as well as in strenghtening the ERA (collaboration between Slovakia and the UK). Finally, this proposal will establish a new long-term collaboration between EU and US researchers.