RELEVANCE: How body relevance drives brain organization

RELEVANCE: How body relevance drives brain organization

Research Area:

Neural and Computational Principles of Action and Social Processing


Martin A. Giese; Michael Stettler; Nick Taubert; Albert Mukovskiy; Winfried Ilg;


Rufin Vogels (KU Leuven); Bea de Gelder (Maastricht University)

Proposed start date:


Proposed end date:


Project page:




Social species, and especially primates, rely heavily on conspecifics for survival. Considerable time is spent watching each other’s behavior for preparing adaptive social responses. The project RELEVANCE aims to understand how the brain evolved special structures to process highly relevant social stimuli, such as bodies and to reveal how social vision sustains adaptive behaviour.

The project will develop a mechanistic and computational understanding of the visual processing of bodies and interactions. It will show how this processing sustains higher abilities such as understanding intention, action and emotion. Relevance will accomplish this by integrating advanced methods from multiple disciplines: psychophysics and high-field functional imaging in combination with virtual reality and neural stimulation in humans; electrophysiology with optogenetics and laminar recordings in monkeys. This data will be exploited to develop physiologically plausible deep neural network models that unify the data. These models will specifically address also the modulation of brain activity during active behavior.

RELEVANCE will reveal novel ways of understanding and diagnosing social communication deficits in neuropsychiatry. It will motivate novel principles and architectures for processing of socially relevant information in computer and robotic systems.





This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement n° 856495).