[visionlist] Job opportunity

Marco Bertamini marco.bertamini at gmail.com
Sat Oct 28 02:20:47 -04 2023

There is a postdoc opportunity  at the Department of Psychology, University of Padova, Italy. The project investigates the processes involved in the integration of information between centre and periphery of the visual field (see below).

The duration of the contract is 24 months. The salary is not negotiable, but it includes pension contributions, and health coverage is free in Italy. Some knowledge of Italian language is welcome but not necessary. The position is open to candidates that have not yet completed their PhD at the time of the interview. How to apply:https://www.dpg.unipd.it/sites/dpg.unipd.it/files/Bando_22.pdf

For more information, please contact the PI (Marco Bertamini, marco.bertamini at unipd.it). A linked position will be advertised soon at the University of Bologna.

Summary of the project:
We take for granted that when we open our eyes we experience a rich and complex scene, extending over a wide field of view, an experience described by William James as a stream of visual consciousness. But what we see is the result of integration of incoming information over time and space. Recently scientists have discovered interactions also between foveal and peripheral visual information. Here we bring together the study of some phenomena originally described as illusions with accurate psychophysical measurements of sensitivity to visual form in the periphery. Central vision is critical for shape perception, and contributes to the analysis of shape information in the periphery. One situation is when extrapolation and filling-in processes lead to properties from the centre to be perceived as extending in the periphery. We study systematically the conditions of continuity between regions that allow such extrapolation. We predict that information about discontinuity between regions will modulate their interaction. This is tested in a series of experiments for 2D shapes and for solid shapes and illumination. Besides having an immediate effect on peripheral appearance, foveal stimulation has also longer-lasting effects on visual processing, e.g., by modulating peripheral adaptation. So far, we have described how we investigate phenomenal appearance, and sensitivity (the ability to correct identify shapes). In another set of studies, we examine the conditions under which the illusory nature of peripheral appearance affects perceptual confidence, i.e., to what extent we feel confident in what we see. In the final part we address the plasticity mechanisms that allow the foveal visual cortex to process peripheral input after long and short-term deprivation. We do this in both patients with macular degeneration (MD), who lack foveal vision, and in healthy observers temporarily deprived of foveal input using a gaze-contingent display. Furthermore, we test whether perceptual learning can alter the peripheral representation in the foveal cortex both in MD patients and in healthy observers. Overall, our integrated research program elucidates how central and peripheral vision interact over a range of stimuli (from simple 2D gratings to complex 3D shapes), representation levels (from detection to appearance and to confidence) and time frames (from immediate interactions to adaptation and to long-term plasticity).

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