The aim of this website is to present the research activities carried out by the members of the ephpLab group. The theoretical framework of all the research projects, publications and group work produced by the members of the ephpLab group is the Experimental Phenomenology of Perception (EPhP). Developed in Italy, it has become one of the most influential and original Italian streams of research in experimental psychology.
Vittorio Benussi, Fabio Metelli, Gaetano Kanizsa, Paolo Bozzi and Giovanni Vicario were instrumental in the development of this approach and their work has shaped a new trend in research on perceptual phenomena. Their starting point was Gestalt Psychology as developed in Austria and Germany and then exported to the United States in the early nineteenth century. This approach has contributed to the study of modern vision science due to the groundbreaking discovery of some very interesting perceptual phenomena, from Metelli’s transparency law, Kanizsa’s anomalous contours, Bozzi’s chromatic after-effects and Bozzi and Vicario’s auditory streaming to the many visual and acoustic effects subsequently discovered by scholars of perception in Italy. This subject has also captured the interest of contemporary Cognitive Scientists who have been inspired to reconsider assumptions and results emerging from research on neuropsychology and formal ontologies from the point of view of this experimental “science of the phenomena” in order to learn more. Two Research Centers involved in this area are the Laboratory for Theoretical and Applied Ontology (Labont, www.labont.it) – a European inter-university center which some members of the ephp group are part of – and the Ontology Research Group, directed by Barry Smith (http://org.buffalo.edu). The statement made by Petitot, Varela, Pachoud and Roy (1999) expresses the concept well: “we have chosen to take as a guideline the idea, currently growing in importance within the cognitive science community, that a successful scientific theory of cognition must account for phenomenality (…) [For] a whole set of cognitive systems, and for the human one in particular, things have appearances (pp. 2-3).
The main scientific purpose of the EPhPLab group is to:
1) compare and integrate methods, contents, and theoretical paradigms of the EPhP with methods, contents and paradigms of contemporary cognitive sciences; this has involved the creation of an online database of texts (articles, books, manuscripts) constituting the corpus of scientific work as developed by the most active scholars of ephp;
2) develop new research projects; over the last ten years, the group has developed a new approach to the direct perception of contrariety using phenomenological psychophysics;
3) promote and encourage studies involving other researchers and scholars, with special events and activities aimed at demonstrating the interaction between the ephp and the psychology of language, thinking and reasoning, the psychology of art, formal ontologies, etc. all carried out in the multidisciplinary spirit of the cognitive sciences.