Current Projects

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Multisensory Object Categories

Human perception is a complex process going beyond the simple detection and measure of sensory stimuli. Our ability to perform everyday tasks, such as recognize the people and objects that occupy our surroundings, is dependent on the integration of sensory information entering into the brain through a number of different channels which is, in turn, subject to modulation by higher cognitive processes.  The main aim of this project is to understand how the human brain acquires and organises these multisensory perceptual inputs into conceptual knowledge in memory that allows us to recognise familiar objects and acquire information to recognise new objects.  Our approach is to investigate the emergence of multisensory object categories in both children and adults.  Further insights into the neural underpinnings of these processes will be gained from neuroimaging.

Perception and Aesthetics

Since first proposed by Gustav Fechner in 1876, and along with recent advances in the field of neuroaesthetics, important insights into the behavioural and brain bases of aesthetic judgements has been informed by empirical investigation within Psychology and Neuroscience. These studies have shown that aesthetic judgments can be underpinned by cognitive functions, including learning, attention, perception and memory, and their associated neural mechanisms. Interestingly most, if not all, of this research was based on the study of portraits, landscape paintings or sculpture and had not considered stained glass.  The uniqueness of stained glass as an artistic medium is that it is dependent on transmitted light and its variation. Together with Prof David Shepherd from the School of Religion, we aim to conduct an empirical investigation of light variation through stained glass on cognitive processes, and its role on aesthetic judgements.

Multisensory perception and ageing

We have investigated the role of ageing on multisensory processes using a range of different tasks including speech perception and event perception. In our recent work, we are collaborating with the TILDA study (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing), which is a large-scale (8,500+ participants), nationally representative, longitudinal study of ageing in Ireland (commenced in 2009 and currently (2021) on its sixth wave of testing). The current project is funded by the Health Research Board, in collaboration with Dr. Annalisa Setti (UCC) and Prof. Ladan Shams (UCLA) and aims to provide a better understanding of the role of ageing on multisensory perception.

We use the Sound Induced Flash Illusion (or SIFI; Shams et al., 2000, 2002) to examine multisensory perception in ageing. SIFI is a well-established measure of audio-visual integration.

Other Projects

Metropolis Project
Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) project
Centre for Ageing Research and Development (CARDI) project
TCD-UCD Innovation Academy
Vanquishing Fear and Apathy Through E-inclusion (VERVE) project
Creating Socially Appealing Avatars (CAPTAVATAR) project

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