AVA Awards Recipients Report - Edward Rowland

Cambridge Research Systems Award

I used the award toward funding attendance at the 2014 VSS annual meeting in St Pete Beach, Florida where I presented a poster 'Simple duration detectors for encoding event time' detailing work developing a model of duration encoding in sensory systems.

The model shows how event duration can be encoded using a population of low-pass filters analogous to neurons a population of neurons responding to the sensory event. The temporal properties of the low-pass filters varies across the population, thus the low-pass filter response gradient also varies, meaning some filters are slower to respond than others. The model uses these differences in response to estimate the event duration using labelled lines by taking the label of the most recent filter whose output has crossed a threshold. We also implement a normalisation stage where the signal input at a point in time is divided by a running average of the signal computed across a temporal window to partially overcome the model's sensitivity to the input signal magnitude. This work shows that a model based upon established properties of sensory systems can encode event duration and as the processes upon which the model is based exist at multiple levels in the visual system predicts that perception of time is a parallel process,  represented across the visual hierarchy which is reflected in the behavioural literature.

My poster was in the Temporal processing session with many other posters describing the latest work in time perception. This was a great boon as I was able to meet and converse with many other researchers in my area to get feedback on my poster, which was generally very positive including some avenues to apply and extend the model which I will be pursuing as I write my PhD thesis. This also gave me the opportunity to meet and view work by others in the field. In fact, finding gaps where my poster was quiet to have the time to look at other posters of interest was pretty challenging as the session seemed to fly by.

The conference itself was a lot of fun too, perhaps in part due to being next to a white sand beach and with cloudless blue skies throughout the week as well as excellent talks throughout including some brilliant keynotes from Mandyam V. Srinivasan on insect vision and robotics and Duje Tadin on spatial suppression. The organisers ran two BBQs giving an opportunity to meet and talk to other researchers as well as kept everyone well refreshed during the day with hot and cold drinks, I particularly appreciated the coffee to help stay attentive throughout the talks during the eleven hour long days. Overall it was a well run and fantastic conference to participate in and I would thoroughly recommend it to other PhD and Post-Doc researchers to attend and would like to thank the AVA and Cambridge Research Systems for helping me to do so.