Projects in Human Visual Perception

Supervised by Serena Butcher

(sbutcher@hamilton.edu)

Over half of the human brain is involved in processing visual information. Yet, the processes by which we construct our perception of the visual would are not fully understood. Professor Butcher is interested in studying how perception arises. She addresses these questions using behavioral data to make inferences about the underlying neural processes. Professor Butcher will supervise projects involving vision and visual attention. Specific questions currently under investigation include:

Visual Field Effects
We experience visual space as continuous. However, our processing of space is in fact divided especially at early levels. The right hemisphere processes information in the left hemifield. The left hemisphere processes information in the right hemifield. We can use visual field presentation to answer questions about neural information processing by presenting task-relevant stimuli to one or both visual fields.

Perceptual Grouping
Perceptual grouping is the process by which features are bound into objects. How is this task accomplished? What affects the speed with which perceptual groups are detected?

Visual Search
Everyday we search for keys, cell phones, and other things. How is attention directed to find what individuals are looking for? What affects the speed with which individuals can find what they are looking for?

Multistable Perception
Certain types of stimuli are able to produce in the observer more than one percept, as in the figure below. One characteristic of such stimuli is their ability to elicit seemingly spontaneous subjective changes. This means that we can have difference conscious experiences while the stimuli transmitted to our brains remain constant. What factors can influence switching between percepts? How can we use the images to learn more about consciousness?

Visual Search
How is attention directed to find what individuals are looking for? What affects the speed with which individuals can find what they are looking for?