Cognitive Science Colloquium
Let's See What Happens: Dynamic Events as Foundational Units of Perception and Cognition
What is the purpose of perception? Perhaps the most common answer to this question is that perception is a way of figuring out *what's out there*, so as to better support adaptive interaction with our local environment. Accordingly, the vast majority of work on visual processing involves representations such as features, objects, and scenes. But the world consists of more than such static entities: out there, things *happen*. And so I will suggest here that the underlying units of perception are often dynamic visual events. In particular, I will explore how visual event representations provide a foundation for much of our mental lives, including attention and memory, causal understanding, intuitive physics, and even social cognition. This presentation will involve some results and some statistics, but the key claims will also be illustrated with phenomenologically vivid demonstrations in which you'll be able to directly experience the importance of event perception -- via phenomena such as transformational apparent motion, rhythmic engagement, change blindness in dynamic scenes, and the perception of chasing. Collectively, this work presents a new way to think about how perception is attuned to an inherently dynamic world.