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DFG Project ELAPS: Embodied Latency Adaptation and the Perception of Simultaenity

February 24, 201211:02

For one year now, I have been working as PI on the DFG project ELAPS: Embodied Latency Adaptation and the Perception of Simultaneity. This is the summary I provided for the DFG page:

“This project studies human sensorimotor adaptation to delayed visual feedback in the sub-second range and its effect on the perception of simultaneity of vision and self-motion. Feedback latencies can be due to either transmission delays or to inertial lags. The hypothesis tested is that, in order to adapt to delays and recalibrate the delay compensation mechanisms, the brain has to disambiguate between the two possibilities. The environmental factors that make adaptation possible will be studied by combining three strands of research: (1) Behavioural experiments in human closed-loop control with visual feedback delays in virtual environments (2) Perceptual (psychophysics) experiments to measure the perceived simultaneity of visual stimuli and self-motion (3) Control-theoretic and simulated agent modelling to identify the underlying principles and possible generative mechanisms. The systematic study of delay adaptation and perceived simultaneity across a spectrum of scenarios will crucially advance the cognitive neuroscience of time perception and perceptuo-motor plasticity. The question is further relevant for autonomous robot control and the design of human computer interfaces and virtual environments, where processing delays can reduce performance and the experience of immersion.”

This work involves three different strands of experimental work and additional modelling. Up to now, I have been mainly working on two of the three experimental strands – I will share the results bit by bit as they get published. The project is exciting because it allows me to look at the plasticity of time perception from a constructivist perspective, combining measurements of behavioural plasticity in the closed-loop with measurements of changes in human perceptual experience (perceptual judgments). The problem is applicable to the engineering problem of transmission delays in virtual interfaces and relates to a number of different interesting open problems like the perception of causality, the perception of time, the perception of agency/ownership, etc.