Visual space perception

How and why space ‘feels’ the way it does i.e., extended and structured? What is the neural process that supports this experience? In collaboration with Andrew Haun and Giulio Tononi (University of Wisconsin-Madison), we are investigating the neural mechanisms underlying our subjective experience of visual space. Our guiding hypothesis is that the strength and structure of neural connections in early visual cortex would underlie the experience of space structure, determining the perceived physical features of a visual stimulus. There is evidence that the administration of a passive-learning training in human subjects, shown to strengthen lateral connections in animal early visual cortex, led to a contraction in the experience of space, measured as the perceived distance between two locations. We are studying the role that short-range structural and functional connections plays in our subjective experience of space and of the spatial features of visual stimuli, through a combination of psychophysics, Hebbian-learning tasks and neuroimaging.