Sensory systems strategic focus area
We bring together international expertise on all five traditional senses, plus multisensory processing and sensoring differences such as synaesthesia and colour vision deficiency. We also lead the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme “Sensation and Perception to Awareness.”
What we do
Our Sensory Systems Strategic Focus Area recognises the unique strengths that Sussex has in sensory perception. We're world-leaders in sensory processing, sensory integration, sensory sensitivities, sensory imagery, and sensory differences (colour vision deficiency, synaesthesia). Those working within this cross-cutting SFA conduct state-of-the-art research work on:
- vision (Franklin and Bosten)
- audition (Garnham, Simner, Ward, Sohoglu)
- taste and smell (Yeomans)
- touch (Ward)
- sensory attention (Forster)
- sensory substitution and synaesthesia (Ward and Simner)
- sensory imagery (Simner, Ward, Forster)
- sensory sensitivities (Ward, Simner)
- multimodal communication in animals (McComb).
Alongside the multiple ground-breaking multi-million pound ERC-funded research on colour vision by Franklin and Bosten (CATEGORIES, COLOURMIND, and COLOURTEST) and synaesthesia by Simner (MULTISENSE and SYNTOOLKIT), the Sensory Systems SFA has received additional funding from other bodies such as BBRSC, Leverhulme, and the REAM foundation. One such Leverhulme fund, of 1.05 million, has supported a novel Doctoral Scholarship Programme co-directed by Ward: "From sensation and perception to awareness." This funds 21 PhD students over three intakes in a strongly interdisciplinary program, approaching Sensory Systems from biological mechanisms, through to human perception, artificial intelligence, and digital arts. This has provided new opportunities for training early career researchers and crucially feeds into our faculty research stream.
A business plan developed to support future growth in Sensory Systems identified a strategic need for advanced technical support from a senior software developer with specific skills in sensory psychophysics and experimental tools development. The School strategically funded that request, covering the costs of a highly skilled senior programmer to bolster grant-funded projects. This approach has been highly successful: Sensory Systems already represents a hub of successful grant applications from the UK, European and International sources of >£5M in last five years -- and now provides a unique platform for innovation and direct pipelines to commercialisation (e.g., Franklin and Bosten’s commercialisation for childhood tests for colour vision deficiency)