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 (at)


I am a vision scientist interested in foundations of perceptual psychology and sensory neuroscience. Much of my research dwells on the interface between two aspects of vision: the entry process called early vision and the constructive process called perceptual organization.

  • Early vision is essentially a gate — or filter — that controls what information penetrates the visual system. The filter is plastic. It rapidly changes in accord with the optical environment and in service of your visual intentions.
  • The information that enters the visual system must be organized: grouped, segmented, layered, or else it remains outside of your awareness. Modern research of perceptual organization is an offshoot of the Gestalt movement in psychology, which became a mature science only recently, a century after the Gestalt movement was born.

I study the computational principles and biological mechanisms underlying these processes, in particular how visual systems organize information for the perception of motion and change.

I also study sensorimotor integration: how visual and haptic information is used to guide action. Currently I try to understand how vision helps us to plan actions prospectively, for many steps ahead, in view of the dynamic nature of the environment, its varying uncertainties and risks.

As a staff scientist and a principal investigator at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, I use experimental and computational methods to characterize neuronal mechanisms of sensation, perception, and action. And as a founding member of the 5D Institute, I'm increasingly involved in the translational studies and design of visual media and built environments.



Selected publications
  • Snider, Lee, Poizner, Gepshtein (2015)
    Prospective optimization with limited resources
    PLoS Computational Biology 11 (9) e1004501 [link] [+]
  • Gepshtein, Lesmes, Albright (2013)
    Sensory adaptation as optimal resource allocation
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 110 4368-4373 [pdf] [+]
  • Jurica, Gepshtein, Tyukin, van Leeuwen (2013)
    Sensory optimization by stochastic tuning
    Psychological Review 120 798-816 [preprint] [+]
  • Gepshtein (2010)
    Two psychologies of perception and the prospect of their synthesis
    Philosophical Psychology 23 217-281 [pdf] [+]
  • Nikolaev, Gepshtein, Gong, van Leeuwen (2010)
    Coherence intervals in electrical brain activity and perceptual organization
    Cerebral Cortex 20 365-382 [pdf] [+]
  • Gepshtein, Kubovy (2007)
    The lawful perception of apparent motion
    Journal of Vision 7 8:9 1-15 [pdf] [+]
  • Gepshtein, Tyukin, Kubovy (2007)
    The economics of motion perception and invariants of visual sensitivity
    Journal of Vision 7 8:8 1-18 [pdf] [+]
  • Trommershäuser, Gepshtein, Maloney, Landy, Banks (2005)
    Optimal compensation for changes in task relevant movement variability
    Journal of Neuroscience 25 7169-7178 [pdf] [+]
  • Banks, Gepshtein, Landy (2004)
    Why is spatial stereoresolution so low?
    Journal of Neuroscience 24 2077-2089 [pdf] [+]
  • Gepshtein & Banks (2003)
    Viewing geometry determines how vision and touch combine in size perception
    Current Biology 13 483-488 [pdf] [+]
  • Gepshtein & Kubovy (2000)
    The emergence of visual objects in space-time
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 8186-8191 [pdf] [+]

Coming soon

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

[+] Solid field of visibility: first model and test
[+] Prospective optimization and visual representation
[+] MT neurons have different tuning at contrast threshold and above
[+] Visual adaptation by stochastic tuning
[+] Paradoxical perception of object identity in visual motion
[+] Invariants and variability of visual 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

Press & public events

Solid field of sensitivity: perceptual structure of immersive space
Keynote at VI International Conference on Spatial Cognition | Rome, September 10, 2015
WEAVING MERCURY: Art and Science in Perception
Livestream panel at FMX conference on animation, effects, games and transmedia | Stuttgart, May 5, 2015
Seen and unseen: Could there ever be a "cinema without cuts"?
Scientific American Blogs | April 29, 2014
How the movies of tomorrow will play with your mind
Pacific Standard | April 29, 2014
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