The act of seeing seems instantaneous. However, we can perceive a visual image only after it is divided into minute elements and features for analysis and is formed in the brain. This process is also used to reconstruct the three-dimensional structure of an object from two-dimensional images. Meanwhile, the processing capacity of our brain is limited, making it impossible to process all the input information at once. This research group focuses on (1) how the brain processes a large amount of rapidly changing visual information to enable adaptive learning and behavior and (2) how differences in visual information processing among individuals relate to difficulties people encounter in learning and behavior. These research topics are examined through behavioral experiments and with the event-related potential (ERP) technique, which measures brain responses with high temporal resolution (milliseconds).
Professor KASAI, Tetsuko
Appropriate learning and behavior requires prompt processing of rapidly changing sensory information. In particular, today’s society is awash with various stimuli; their prompt, efficient processing is essential for adaptive social life.
These stimuli appear to be processed instantaneously, but the hundreds of milliseconds they take for processing involve several steps. These steps are performed by complex neural networks in the brain, and even slight malfunctions or time delays in the networks may cause unique perceptions or disabilities. However, the specifics are yet to be clarified.
The seemingly instantaneous processing of those steps are visualized on event-related potentials (ERPs), which show non-invasively (i.e., not involving cutting into the body) measured brain responses. This research group conducts studies on vision (which is the richest source of information from our environment and about which many findings have been accumulated) by using both ERPs and behavioral experiments. In particular, the group focuses on perceptual organization, which defines processing units, and selective attention – the capacity for prioritizing the processing of certain stimuli when several occur simultaneously.
This research group became independent in 2015 from the section of basic research on vision in the Special Education and Clinical Psychology Research Group, which had received guidance from Professor Saburo Okuda, Honorary Professor Minami Kanoh, Professor Shoji Kitajima, Honorary Professor Takashi Morotomi and Honorary Professor Harumitsu Murohashi. The group has over 50 years of experience in electroencephalography.