Visual perception provides us with a richly detailed representation of the surrounding world, enabling us to make subtle judgements of 1) 3D shape, 2) the material properties of objects, and 3) the flow of illumination within a scene. Together, these three factors determine the intensity of a surface in the image. Estimating scene properties is crucial for guiding action and making decisions like whether food is edible. Visual ‘look and feel’ also plays a key role in industrial design, computer graphics and other industries. Despite this, little is known about how we visually estimate the physical properties of objects and illumination. Previous research has mainly focussed on one or two of the three causal factors independently, and from the viewpoint of a specific discipline. By contrast, in PRISM we take an integrative approach, to understand how the brain creates a richly detailed representation of the world by looking at how all three factors interact simultaneously. PRISM is radically interdisciplinary, uniting experts from psychology, neuroscience, computer science and physics to understand both the analysis and synthesis of shape, shading and materials. PRISM is intersectoral by uniting researchers from seven leading Universities and two industrial partners, enabling impact in basic research, technology and the creative industries. Through research projects, cross-discipline visits, and structured Course Modules delivered through local and network-wide training events, we will endow PRISM fellows with an unusually broad overview and the cross-sector skills they need to become future leaders in European research and development. Thus, by delivering early-career training embedded in a cutting-edge research programme, we aim to 1) springboard the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers on perceptual representations of 3D scenes and 2) cement long-term collaborations between sectors to enhance European perception research and its applications.
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