Speaker: Ilker Yildirim, MIT
Title: Physical object representations in perception, multisensory perception, and problem solving
From a quick glance, the touch of an object, or a brief sound snippet, our brains construct scenes composed of rich and detailed shapes and surfaces. These representations underlie not only object and scene recognition, but also support mental imagery, problem solving and action planning. I will argue that to compute such rich representations, the brain draws on internal causal and compositional models of the outside physical world. In this view, perception is building and using such internal models to explain its sense inputs. I implement this approach drawing on a range of methods including probabilistic generative models, neural networks, and forward models such as those found in modern video game engines. I will present computational models of unisensory and multisensory perception, physical scene understanding, and physical problem solving, all of which fall from the same principled approach to perception and cognition. I will show that these models solve difficult engineering tasks, account for the tuning properties of individual neurons in the brain, and predict the human behavioral patterns across a range of tasks. Together, these findings provide computational insights to the mind and brain while paving a way for human-like artificially intelligent systems.
Ilker Yildirim is a research scientist at MIT in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences. He is a member of the Computational Cognitive Science group (led by Josh Tenenbaum) and the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines. He was a postdoc in the Computational Cognitive Science group at MIT jointly with the Laboratory of Neural Systems at the Rockefeller University (led by Winrich Freiwald) until July 2016. He received a joint Ph.D. degree in Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Computer Science from the University of Rochester in May 2014. His thesis advisors were Robbie Jacobs and Dan Gildea. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Computer Science from Bogazici University, Istanbul in 2007 and 2009.
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