How does the brain process complex signals from the natural environment? What statistical properties characterize these signals, and how do they shape the structure and function of sensory neural circuits? How is sensory processing influenced by the active and goal-directed nature of information gathering carried out by living organisms, as opposed to passive reception often discussed in theoretical or engineering context?
The goal of this meeting is to examine such questions and ask how understanding natural signals can help us understand sensory processing and perception. This can lead to novel experimental setups which mimic the real environments and stimuli yet are nevertheless well-controlled, as well as to theoretical predictions about neural circuits and coding that can be checked experimentally.
Sensory Coding & Natural Environment has been a successful Gordon Research conference series organized since 2002, with the last meeting held in Maine in 2010. This interdisciplinary meeting has drawn together scientists at the interface of neuroscience, physics, engineering, psychology and machine learning. In addition to the interdisciplinary emphasis and the focus on searching for principles that extend across a range of sensory modalities and organisms, one of the strong points of the meeting has been to allow ample time for informal discussions. We hope that the 2012 meeting at IST Austria will also build on these strengths.