Welcome, reader(s), to the Time-Frequency Transform blog. Your host is Matt, a post-doctoral researcher from Manchester, UK. I guess you could call me a cognitive neuroscientist. This blog will be a mixture of the professional and the personal.

I’ll be posting about my take on various issues I’m interested in, chiefly object recognition, and, given the name of the blog, about time-frequency analysis. There’ll be a separate, colder blog about technical subjects at a later date, but this one is really a space for speculative rambling. The TL;DR version of the rest of this post is: everything goes through time and phases.

First, let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I was working the night-shift in a medium-to-high security forensic psychiatric hospital. I’d switched from the day shifts for a variety of reasons. It suited my preferred sleeping patterns, which had been out-of-kilter with most of the world for several years. The pay was better. You could watch a lot more films when most of the patients were asleep. I’d been working there for a year or so, and had grown accustomed to the internal rhythm of the hospital. The staff would come and go, the meals would arrive, the doctors and families (at least, those who still had them) would visit. And, sure enough, your shift would finish, you’d handover to the next shift, and you’d make your way home while the rest of the world seemed to be setting off for work. But after another year, the rhythm had grown older than a hip-hop song sampling James Brown’s funky drummer.

In the end, the clinical work didn’t. Too many rejections and too much dejection made me change my direction. I dove back into the welcoming waters of cognitive psychology, which enveloped me with barely a ripple. I didn’t really know where I was swimming to, when I leapt back in, but I knew I wanted to swim. So I did. I became interested in objects, after a casual aside by a course leader when describing potential projects: “Recognizing objects is at the root of everything we do.” I simply followed the current. It carried me along through my Masters and on through my PhD.

I learnt the rhythm of experimentation. I began in vision. Objects flashing before people’s eyes, flipped left-to-right or upside-down; objects mixed among similar objects; objects to be attended and objects to be ignored. From there, I moved on to touch – “the first sense, the root and ground, as it were, of the other senses” (Aquinas, not me.) – and how we map from one sense to the other, how we gather what we can, however we can, and so effortlessly combine and convert all the disparate sources of sensations into a coherent way of perceiving the world.

And then I made the move to EEG, and learnt about the rhythms of the brain. How alpha waxes and wanes, how gamma crests on the wave of theta, how the firing of neurons is an orchestra playing in a key we have no clef for, with more notes than any staff can show, and what little we can hear is such a small part of all the pieces that are playing.

And I’m still basically throwing things at people and seeing what noise it makes.

The transformation is still ongoing.


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