“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.”
Shaul Hochstein’s research contributions span the entire spectrum of vision research. Investigations at his laboratory have ranged from the biophysics of the photo-transduction process when light is absorbed in the eye, through the electrophysiology of visual information processing in the eye and brain that builds and stores internal representations of the external world in a hierarchy of cortical areas, to the psychophysics and cognitive psychology of perceptual skill learning and conscious perception. Israeli research into many of these fields was pioneered at Shaul Hochstein’s lab, and two dozen of his students and their students now form the core of sensory system research at a variety of Israeli academic institutions.
Shaul Hochstein’s recent work relates to cerebral changes occurring with sensory experience, adaptation, expectation and perceptual learning, the role of neural networks in short- and long-term memory, characterization and categorization of perceived objects, and perception of the identity, order, and summary statistics of a series of objects. Confronting the most difficult challenge of brain science, the study of consciousness, he and his colleagues are investigating the nature of brain activity reflecting automatic sub-conscious processes and that related to conscious perceptual experience. Together with Merav Ahissar he proposed the influential Reverse Hierarchy Theories of Perceptual Learning and of Conscious Perception.
Current studies include the conscious and unconscious perception of stimulus set averages, and their relation to categorization and implicit perception of a category’s prototype. Modeling studies suggest that set member representations might be in terms of the appropriate mean or prototype, augmented by the differences from it. In addition, the lab is studying underlying deficits in children with autism.