The Laboratory for Perceptual Dynamics (PDL) takes a ‘complex systems’ view with respect to visual awareness. In this view, ongoing internal processes in the brain prepare it for the experience of objects, textures, and shapes. These processes are necessary, but not sufficient for visual awareness. To become awareness, they need to function in a wider context including, of course, visual stimulation, but also the actions of the system, ranging from eye-movements to the active exploration of the environment, as well as the history of prior experience and development. The ultimate context for these processes is the evolution of our species. The laboratory is achieving its aims through a combination of perceptual psychophysics, psychophysiology, and computational modeling. Researchers from various disciplines (ranging from cognitive psychology to applied mathematicians) are working together to unravel the temporal structure of visual experience and its neural underpinning.
Initiated and headed by Cees van Leeuwen, PDL was established in its first incarnation in 2001 as a research laboratory of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute and has remained in existence until May 2012. The generous support of the Flemish Science Foundation (FWO) enabled the transfer of PDL to the KU Leuven. The transfer was accomplished in 2011/2012 in the framework of the Odysseus program.