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How observers could represent a 3D space

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only
Reading United Kingdom Computational Mathematics Neuropsychology

About the Project

Currently, we have very little idea about how the human brain represents 3D space. This is a particularly difficult problem when you consider how much the retinal image changes as people move their head and eyes. In our laboratory, we compare models of spatial representation that could explain how people behave when they carry out tasks such as pointing at objects that are currently out of sight or finding a shortcut to objects in a maze. We do this in immersive virtual reality, where participants wear a head mounted display, so that we can design and control the environment and, often, change the layout of the scene as participants walk through it.

We have close links with the Robotics Group in the University of Oxford ( Some of the hypotheses we are currently exploring are inspired by the recent success of reinforcement learning on navigation tasks. There is flexibility to make a PhD project more computational, and more closely linked with the Oxford group, or more directly focused on human spatial behaviour.

Funding Notes

1st/High 2.i in a relevant discipline (Neuroscience or Psychology) or computational discipline (eg Engineering or Computer Science). Normally, also an MSc (Merit or Distinction). There is room to vary the focus of the PhD more towards experiments or modelling.
See University of Reading funding competitions including Magdalen Vernon Studentship (PCLS) and University-wide International Studentship


Review: Glennerster, A. (2016) A moving observer in a three-dimensional world. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B, 371(1697), 20150265

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