The Institute of Information Processing and Decision Making (IIPDM) at the University of Haifa is an interdisciplinary research institute, providing a unique cooperative research and training environment.
Research at the IIPDM is aimed at unlocking the secrets of the human mind. Institute members and trainees address a wide array of basic and applied research topics relating to perception, attention, memory, metacognition, language, emotions, and decision making. The basic research conducted at the IIPDM deals with issues such as: how we organize the visual input into coherent objects and scenes, how we selectively attend to relevant information, how we recognize objects and faces, how we monitor the accuracy of our memories and knowledge and how this monitoring guides the way we learn and remember, why we remember things that never actually happened, how we acquire and use language, how perceptual and cognitive abilities change over the life span, how emotions are structured and how they relate to semantic knowledge, and how all of these mental processes are instantiated in the brain. The applied research deals with understanding and overcoming the perceptual and cognitive difficulties encountered in human-machine interaction and computer system interfaces, including driving safety research.
Primarily, the research carried out at the IIPDM employs behavioral methods to understand mental functioning within an information processing framework. In addition, with the emergence of cognitive neuroscience and taking an interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of how the mind works, some of the research also employs brain imaging techniques in a quest for identifying the neural mechanisms underlying mental processes.
The IIPDM has a unique structure and philosophy, as a collective research institute operating like a “research kibbutz”: All resources, including lab space, equipment, programming and technical support, are collectively pooled and used by all members of the Institute and their graduate students on a time-sharing basis. As a result, a wide array of laboratory and support facilities is available and efficiently utilized. The collaborative structure of the Institute also fosters fruitful collaborations between the Institute members and gives them a competitive edge in obtaining research and equipment grants from external sources.
The IIPDM was established in 1983 by a group of experimental psychologists at the University of Haifa, sharing a common interest in the broad fields of Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science. Its central aims were to foster greater cooperation between the scientists, and to create a research environment in which the researchers share all the resources. This endeavor has proven to be extremely successful.
Affiliated with the IIPDM is the Ergonomics and Human Factors Unit, established in 1993, in which most of the applied research is carried out. Several IIPDM members are also members of the Max Wertheimer Minerva Center for Cognitive Processes and Human Performance, which was established in 1996. It is a joint center that combines the activity of seven senior researchers from The University of Haifa and The Technion. The Center's main purpose is to foster research on human cognition and human performance, including collaborative research between the two groups of the Israeli scientists and between the Israeli scientists and their German colleagues.