Neural and Computational Principles of Action and Social Processing
We investigate the mechanisms of the perception of body movements, and their relationship with motor execution and social signals. Our work combines psychophysical experiments and the development of physiologically-inspired neural models in close collaboration with electrophysiologists at the HIH and the CIN. In addition, exploiting advanced methods from computer animation and Virtual Reality (VR), we investigate the perception of body movements (facial and body expressions) in social communication, and its deficits in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorders. A particular new focus is the study of intentional signals that are conveyed by bodily and facial expressions. For this purpose, we developed highly controlled stimulus sets, exploiting high-end methods from computer graphics. In addition, we develop physiologically-inspired neural models for neural circuits involved in the extraction of intent information from visual stimuli.