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Measurement of Naturalness

Acronym: MONAT
Start: 9/1/2006
End: 8/31/2009

Project Status History
unknown 9/1/2006
 Funding Programmes
NEST-2004-Path-IMP Measuring the Impossible Specific Targeted Research Project 1500000euro

We instinctively know whether something is natural, or a synthetic mimic. But the key factors responsible for this perception have yet to be identified: this is the primary objective of this project. The perception of naturalness is dominated, in most cases, by visual appearance and touch. Basic visual sensory information, such as colour and gloss, and other visual triggers, such as shape and size (all mediated by photoreceptors in the retina) is often sufficient to differentiate between natural and synthetic materials. Touching the material serves to reinforce the initial visual perception: here tactile information from cutaneous pressure sensitive and thermal sensory transducers, as well as kinesthetic data, provides the requisite sensory input.This project aims to understand how these sensory data streams are processed by the relevant neural networks and how they contribute to the cognitive processes associated with the perception of naturalness. This understanding will take account of the effect of contextual information on this perception (i.e. the interplay between the individual senses and the relationship between the material and its environment).Establishing the chain of perception for naturalness based on these sensory inputs will enable relationships between the physical attributes of the material and the neural and cognitive processes to be identified; information that will be used in the project to develop mathematical models to predict the perception of naturalness for a range of materials. The project involves a multidisciplinary team, with strong expertise in the areas of physical measurement, instrumentation, cognitive neuroscience, psychology and mathematical modelling, as well as a proven track record in the management and delivery of highly innovative research projects. These skills, coupled with the use of new and emerging techniques that are described in this proposal, provide a solid foundation for meeting the project objectives.

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