Ksenjia Slivac

My research focuses on the effects of language on cognition and perception. Using psychophysical and neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, I investigate how linguistic labels affect the visual perception of both general and biological motion in dynamic, multistable, point-light environments. These environments, in which a handful of individual dots with their local kinematics end up comprising an easily recognisable coherent shape, are a perfect illustration of how both bottom-up and top-down cues are involved in the reconstruction of a visual scene. However, a simple act of offsetting the positions of the dynamic dots, either by scrambling or inverting the figure they make up, can just as easily deconstruct the whole visual scene. The compositional nature of such animations and Gestalt principles guiding their perception allow me to investigate which linguistic cues can facilitate or hinder their detection in a noisy setting. This, in turn, allows me to test the extent to which language can cascade into the visual system and influence our perception.

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