Prof. Merav Ahissar
The relations between psychological phenomena and their underlying physiological mechanisms have always fascinated me. I began my scientific career with single unit electrophysiology in behaving monkeys. I continued with psychophysics, studying perceptual learning in adult humans. In the past few years I have focused on even higher level skills. We are now studying the relations between perception and cognition. Specifically, we are trying to decipher the perceptual deficits of reading and learning disabled individuals and the relevance of these perceptual deficits to their cognitive disabilities.
Auditory perceptual learning: putting it within a consistent conceptual framework (does it follow RHT predictions?) using behavioral, ERP and MEG measurements.
Perceptual plasticity: A search for a unified framework for studying the various manifestations of perceptual plasticity: Perceptual learning. Adaptation. Priming. What is the role of top-down control in each of these phenomena?
Reverse Hierarchy Theory: Exploring further the theory of reverse hierarchy (Ahissar & Hochstein, 1997) in the general context of perception. The perceptual basis of cognitive abilities: What (if any) are the perceptual deficits that underlie cognitive difficulties in the general population? Are there cognitive "primitives"? Can they be probed with perceptual tasks?
The perceptual basis of reading and learning disabilities: What are the main visual and auditory processing difficulties that learning disabled suffer from? In what way are they functionally linked to their cognitive difficulties.
The relations between perception in the lab using simple, out of context, stimuli and natural perception: The project aims to assess the dynamics of visual processing as revealed by behavior, patterns of eye movements and ERP. Particularly, to what extent global stimulus characteristics dominate initial perception compared with local aspects that do not impact the categorical level (i.e. assessing RHT predictions) in the general population and among dyslexics.