Institut Jean Nicod

Accueil > Séminaires/Colloques > Soutenances de Thèse et HDR > PhD defense - Dawei Bai "Intuitive physics in visual perception"

PhD defense - Dawei Bai "Intuitive physics in visual perception"


Date : 10 October 3pm

Location : Meeting room IJN and zoom

Jury : 

  • Brian, SCHOLL Professor, Yale University
  • Zsuzsa, KALDY Professor, UMass Boston
  • Liuba, PAPEO DR, CNRS & Université Lyon
  • Brent, STRICKLAND CR, CNRS-ENS-PSL Directeur de thèse



My research investigated intuitive physics in adult visual perception through behavioral measures. I focused on the physical constraint of solidity (i.e., solid objects cannot pass through each other). In my first study, I discovered that solidity is indeed embedded in the visual system, shaping our perception of object motion. My second study investigated the limits of the solidity constraint in vision, showing that it can be overridden by the stereo-scopic cue of depth in the context of the Pulfrich effect. These empirical studies led to the last and theoretical part of my PhD work. Here, I argue that core knowledge—the set of representations that emerge early in infancy, and which is traditionally thought of as in-fants’ reasoning abilities—is actually part of the visual system. This is because, one, re-cent advances in vision research have shown that visual perception is capable of pro-cessing high-level properties like solidity. Two, the adult visual system actually integrates the very same representations that have been identified as part of core knowledge, in-cluding not only core physics, but also representations of agents, numbers and geometry. I argue that the accumulation of evidence calls for a revision of the nature of core knowledge, which is better explained as a sophisticated form of vision, instead of as pre-cocious reasoning capacities.