Dr. Betty Mohler Tesch
Betty Mohler leads the independent research group, Space and Body Perception at the Max Planck Institutes for Biological Cybernetics and Intelligent Systems. Her groups aim is to investigate human perception and behavior using ecologically valid and immersive virtual reality (VR). At the same time we consider the implications of our scientific results for improving design specifications for VR software and technology. VR equipment enables our scientists to provide sensory stimulus in a controlled virtual world and to manipulate or alter sensory input that would not be possible in the real world. More specifically, we are able to specifically manipulate the visual body, the contents of the virtual world, and the sensory stimulus (visual, vestibular, kinesthetic, tactile, and auditory) while performing or viewing actions (performed by self or by others). We are mostly interesting in manipulating these features in real-time and are able to do this through fast VR capture and rendering technology. Our group focuses on two specific areas: space and body perception. Space perception is the ability to experience the world in three dimensions and the distances to and between objects in the world. Body perception is the experience we have of our physical selves (and parts of ourselves, i.e. hands, legs, torso). In our research group we focus especially on the perception of the size, shape and form of our surrounding world and our bodies. Further we focus on the interaction between our perception of the spatial attributes of our bodily selves and the spatial perception of the surrounding visual world. Our methods typically involve measuring human performance in complex everyday tasks, i.e. spatial estimates, action execution and recognition (i.e. reaching, walking, communication). We have found that people rapidly adapt their visual estimates about their own bodies (to longer arms, bigger hands, bigger overall bodies) and the surrounding visual environment. In addition, contrary to what one might think, even healthy people have distortions in how they perceive their bodies and the relationship between their bodies and the surrounding world. In recent years we have been developing our technology so that it can be used for clinical applications, specifically with stroke patients, with eating disorder patients and hopefully soon with amputee patients.
Dr. Betty Mohler will present the Importance of Avatars for Body Perception, during her keynote.