About the Centre

The Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience (CSPE) facilitates analytical philosophical and empirical research into the nature of perceptual experience drawing on philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry,  human–computer interaction, and artistic practice. Our researchers often work in an interdisciplinary manner drawing on these fields.

We consist of a core group of faculty, postdocs, and graduate students at the University of Glasgow, together with a wider group of researchers from around the world. Have a look at our full list of people. We have research links to many research groups in the UK, Europe and North America working on the nature of perception and we frequently host academic visitors from around the world. Click to find out how to visit or join the Centre or e-mail the Centre Director fiona.macpherson@glasgow.ac.uk.

Our main topics of interest are the phenomenal character of sensory experience, illusion and hallucination, virtual and augmented reality, the senses, colour, imagination, pain and suffering, and emotion. See the research of our members from our personnel page.

We conduct and publish research, often based on the projects, conferences, workshops and seminars that we organise. We organise the Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience (PPN) Seminar at Glasgow fortnightly on Mondays and co-organise the Illusion of the Fortnight Seminars.

Our research has impact. The two REF 2021 case studies for Philosophy at Glasgow came from researchers at the CSPE. Fiona Macpherson's work on extreme imagination (in conjunction with the The Eye's Mind team) formed one case study. The work involved outreach to those with aphantasia and hyperphantasia. Part of this work was an online art exhibition developed by Macpherson, launched May 2020, on the topic of Extreme Imagination, based on the physical versions of the exhibition at the Tramway Glagow and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. The online exhibition won the 2021 Hidden REF award for best communicative output.

Fiona Macpherson's and Neil McDonnell's work on Virtual Reality with VR company Sublime on Project Mobius, was our second case study. On Project Mobius we developed VR apps for teaching in higher education, and during the time of Covid, they have been transformed into VR experiences that can be delivered to students via mainstream platforms such as Zoom or Teams, that mean the students do not require specialist hardware. This is known as EDIFY. This work has won and been shortlisted for many awards which you can read about on the Project Mobius page.

We also work with other industry partners, such as Cupboard Games and the Twist Museum of Illusions in London.

We carry out a lot of interactions with the public demonstrating perception at our research stalls and other public events. Recently we played a central role in bringing Dreamachine to life and, together with Prof Anil Seth and his colleages at the University of Sussex, we are running the major citizen science project, The Perception Census. We we have a wealth online material aimed at the general public too, such as the The Illusions Index, and a lively Facebook page and Twitter social media presence.

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