David Melcher is professor at the Facoltà di Scienze Cognitive and researcher at the Experimental Psychology Labs (CIMeC).
My research investigates the interactions between selective attention, perception, memory and action. Investigative tools include behavioural measures, eye tracking and neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG and TMS). My current research focuses on (1) how our current percept is influenced by previous experience, (2) developing a theory of perceptual stability across saccadic eye movements based on the dynamic updating of object information across separate glances, (3) relationships between space, objects, selective attention and number, (4) theories of embodied cognition and active vision, (5) visual categorization and (6) links between neuroscience and the arts.
Research Areas and Projects
(1) How is our current perception influenced by previous experience?
What we see can be influenced by immediate experience (priming and adaptation) and by context-based knowledge over a longer term. We have been exploring the ways that these mechanisms can make perception and action more effective, especially the tricks that improve performance without requiring the active recollection of memory (Melcher, Nature, 2001; Melcher, Journal of Vision, 2006; Tatler & Melcher, Perception, 2008). This research also examines the influence of subthreshold (invisible) stimuli on perception and action.
(2) Perceptual stability across body and eye movements
Our recent experimental work has “resurrected” the idea that perception combines visual information across glances (Melcher & Morrone, Nature Neuroscience, 2003; Melcher, Current Biology, 2005; Melcher, Nature Neuroscience, 2007). Currently, we are developing and testing a model of how updating and “remapping” of visual information in the brain might occur.
(3) The relationship between space, objects, attention and number
When faced with a complex scene, the brain selects only a few items for preferential perceptual processing and for guiding action. We are investigating the neural underpinnings of this selection process to find a common substrate across different tasks.
(4) Theories of embodied cognition and active vision
The eye can serve as a channel to influence the other senses, the emotions and our body sense. We are exploring the implications of recent research on the powerful influences of visual images, and designing new experiments to characterize the “embodied eye.”