Sergei Gepshtein

Center for Neurobiology of Vision
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
10010 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037, USA

858.453.4100 ext 1014 | office
858.546.8526 | fax


Sergei is a vision scientist interested in foundations of perceptual psychology and sensory neuroscience. His current work is concentrated on the interface between two levels of visual perception — the entry process called early vision and the next stage called perceptual organization:

  • Early vision is a filter that controls what information penetrates the visual system. The filter is plastic in the sense it can rapidly reconfigure itself for the great range of visual tasks we perform day to day, and in view of the many environments to which our vision adapts effortlessly.
  • The information that passes the early filter must be organized — grouped, segmented, layered — or else it remains outside visual awareness. Modern research of perceptual organization is an offshoot of the Gestalt revolution in psychology. It became a mature science only recently, a century after it burst out.

Sergei studies computational principles and biological mechanisms underlying these processes, in particular how visual information is organized for perception of motion and change.

Sergei also studies sensorimotor integration: the connection of perception and action. Currently he tries to understand how vision helps us to plan actions prospectively, for several steps ahead, again considering the dynamic nature of the environment, its risks and uncertainties.

As a staff scientist and a principal investigator at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sergei uses experimental and computational methods to characterize neuronal mechanisms of sensation, perception, and action.

As a founding member of the 5D Institute, he is increasingly involved in translational studies of visual media and built environments.

Current projects

Selected publications

Double-click the blue markers [+] for further detail.

  • Sensory adaptation as optimal resource allocation
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. (2013)
    [+] [early edition] [corrected edition]
  • Sensory optimization by stochastic tuning
    Psychological Review (2013)
    [+] [authors' preprint]
  • Dopamine function and the efficiency of human movement
    Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2013)
    [+] [early access] [preprint]
  • Single-trial and averaged brain responses in large-scale cortical signals
    NeuroImage (2013)
    [+] [local copy]
  • Foundations of visual perception
    Handbook of Psychology, 2e (2013)
    [+] [Google preview]
  • Spontaneous cortical activity and biases in perception of suprathreshold stimuli
    Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (2013)
    [+] [Springer]

  • Spatially invariant computations in stereoscopic vision
    Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience (2012)
    [local copy] [readcube] [+]
  • A century of Gestalt psychology in visual perception
    Psychological Bulletin (2012)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Perception of time in articulated visual events
    Frontiers in Psychology (2012)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Coherence intervals in electrical brain activity and perceptual organization
    Cerebral Cortex (2010)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Two psychologies of perception and the prospect of their synthesis
    Philosophical Psychology (2010)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Dissociation of early evoked cortical activity in perceptual grouping
    Experimental Brain Research (2008)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Closing the gap between ideal and real behavior
    Philosophical Psychology (2008)
    [local copy] [+]
  • The lawful perception of apparent motion
    Journal of Vision (2007)
    [pdf] [+]
  • The economics of motion perception and invariants of visual sensitivity
    Journal of Vision (2007)
    [pdf] [+]
  • Optimality of human movement under natural variations of visual-motor uncertainty
    Journal of Vision (2007)
    [pdf] [+]
  • Optimal compensation for changes in task relevant movement variability
    Journal of Neuroscience (2005)
    [local copy] [+]
  • The combination of vision and touch depends on spatial proximity
    Journal of Vision (2005)
    [pdf] [+]
  • Stability and change in perception: Spatial organization in temporal context
    Experimental Brain Research (2005)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Why is spatial stereoresolution so low?
    Journal of Neuroscience (2004)
    [local copy] [+]
  • Viewing geometry determines how vision and touch combine in size perception
    Current Biology (2003)
    [local copy] [+]
  • An exercise in phenomenological psychophysics
    Perceptual Organization in Vision, Erlbaum (2003)
    [preprint] [+]
  • The emergence of visual objects in space-time
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. (2000)
    [local copy] [+]

Coming soon

Double-click the blue markers [+] for further detail.

[+] Prospective optimization under risk
[+] Visual adaptation by stochastic tuning
[+] Invariants and variability of spatiotemporal contrast sensitivity
[+] Adaptive estimation of spatiotemporal contrast sensitivity
[+] Pre-stimulus brain activity and perceptual organization
[+] Perception and action in immersive worlds
[+] Oxford handbook of computational perceptual organization


The visual system as economist: neural resource allocation in visual adaptation
Medical Xpress | April 1, 2013
Despite what you may think, your brain is a mathematical genius
ScienceNewsline | April 10, 2013
Brain waves challenge area-specific view of brain activity [video 1 2]
KU Leuven | March 20, 2013

    October 25, 2013