Isabelle Mareschal (lab head)

I perform both basic and applied research on visual perception in humans and my research has two major streams:

1) My basic research program examines how controlled measurements of visual perception can be extended to realistic stimuli and situations. This research examines how humans detect simple or basic visual features (such as edges) within a natural environment and how things such as attention can improve our performance.

2) I am also developing a research program that addresses basic issues of social neuroscience, investigating how good we are at making judgements of other people’s gaze and facial expressions. I plan to develop this research with clinical collaborations to use robust psychophysical evaluations of visual disorders associated with some clinical populations (e.g. conduct disorder; autism spectrum disorder, etc.). The goal of these tests is to provide early diagnostic capabilities and, potentially, develop training tools to help improve performance.

 

Hussain Ismail Ahamed Miflah (Principal's PhD student)

The broad aim of my research is to understand high level adaptation to natural scene properties and their functional relevance for behavioural aspects of vision like visual search. My research interests include global image statistics, adaptation, visual search and eye movement strategies and I use a combination of psychophysical techniques and eye tracking.

 

Deema Awad (ESRC PhD student)

While we think our perception of the world is unbiased and accurate, it is influenced by many factors: simple objects can look different when viewed within a surround or on their own (e.g. “contextual effects”). It's argued that properties of simple visual stimuli are summarized in a statistical representation that does not include precise information about any individual item (ensemble averaging) because the amount of visual information that reaches our eyes exceeds what we can actually perceive. Ensemble averaging has been shown to account for our perception of many basic visual features, including line orientation, size and motion. Recently, contextual effects have been shown to influence our perception of more complex social stimuli including facial expression, gender, or attractiveness. I will examine and systematically quantify how this applies to person perception. Specifically, I will examine how seeing a person in a group may alter (a) how we look at them (e.g. fleetingly or not) and consequently, (b) how accurately we perceive them. I will focus on fundamental characteristics of person perception such as race, age, emotional state and facial expressions.

 

Charlotte Harrison (Leverhulme PhD Student, with Alan Johnston, UCL)

Social interactions are inherently dynamic and how long a person looks is at least as important as where they are looking. Using psychophysical experiments and eye-tracking, my research aims to investigate how we perceive the duration of gaze. The overall objectives of my thesis are to establish a) what constitutes a comfortable length of mutual gaze, b) whether humans have the ability to precisely time gaze duration, to complement the already documented high sensitivity to gaze direction, and c) to what extent mechanisms for perception of gaze duration are specialised and independent of timing mechanisms for other visual events.

 

Alumni

Dr Antoine Coutrot (2020 Science Fellow, 2015-2017, with Alan Johnston, UCL). Now setting up his own lab in CNRS, Rennes

Dr Joseph Florey (PhD student, 2014-2017). Now at Sony Research

Dr Nicola Binetti (Postdoctoral researcher, 2014-2017, with Alan Johnston, UCL). Now a postdoc in UCLIC at UCL

 

Current collaborators:

Prof Peter Bex, Northeastern University, USA

Prof Darren Cosker, University of Bath

Prof Mark Dadds, University of Sydney, Australia

Prof Steven Dakin, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Miles Hansard, Queen Mary University of London

Prof Alan Johnston, University of Nottingham

Dr Keith May, University of Essex

Prof Michael Morgan, City University of London

Prof Joshua Solomon, City University of London

Dr Samuel Solomon, UCL

Prof Essi VIding, UCL