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Marc Ernst, Bielefeld University, Germany: Putting together the puzzle of multisensory perception

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  • Distinguished Lecture
When Dec 06, 2012
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall (C-209), Schulich School of Music, McGill University, 555 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal QC
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The brain receives information about the environment from all the sensory modalities, including vision, touch and audition. To efficiently interact with the environment, this information must eventually converge in the brain in order to form a reliable and accurate multimodal percept. This process is often complicated by the existence of noise at every level of signal processing, which introduces uncertainty and makes the sensory information derived from the world imprecise and potentially inaccurate. There are several ways in which the nervous system may deal with uncertainty, minimizing the negative consequences of noise in terms of precision and accuracy. Two key strategies are to combine redundant sensory estimates and to utilize acquired knowledge about the statistical regularities of different sensory signals. In this talk, I elaborate on how these strategies may be used by the nervous system in order to obtain the best possible estimates from noisy sensory signals, such that we are able of efficiently interact with the environment. Particularly, I will focus on the learning aspects and how our perceptions are tuned to the statistical regularities of an ever-changing environment.


Marc Ernst is chair of the Cognitive Neuroscience Department and member of the CITEC cluster of Excellence at Bielefeld University, Germany. He received his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics for investigations on human visuomotor behavior. For this work he was awarded the Attempto-Prize (2000) from the University of Tübingen and the Otto-Hahn-Medaille (2001) from the Max Planck Society. After his Ph.D. he spent almost two years as a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley, USA working with Prof. Martin Banks on psychophysical experiments and computational models investigating the integration of visual-haptic information. In 2001, Marc Ernst returned to the Max Planck Institute and became principle investigator of the Sensorimotor Lab in the Department of Prof. Heinrich Bülthoff. In 2007 Marc Ernst then became leader of the Max Planck Research Group on Human Multisensory Perception and Action. In 2011 he then moved to Bielefeld where he is since. The scientific interest of Marc Ernst is in human multisensory perception, sensorimotor integration and men-machine interaction. Marc Ernst has published well over 50 papers and conference proceedings in high profile journals including Nature, Science and Nature Neuroscience. He was involved in several international collaborative grants, including several European Projects. Furthermore, Marc Ernst was coordinating the FP6 IST European Project CyberWalk, which developed an omnidirectional treadmill in order to enable natural free walking in Virtual Environments.


APA video citation:
Ernst, M. (2014, January 14). Putting together the puzzle of multisensory perception -
CIRMMT Distinguished Lectures in the Science and Technology of Music. [Video file].
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