As a Cognitive Neuroscientist, I explored the perceptual and cognitive processes underlying visual perception and attention, using a wide range of methods and experimental equipment, including mirror stereoscopes, behavioural techniques, eye tracking, and functional MRI.
Stereopsis leads to the perception of depth from two slightly different views of the world falling onto each eye. Reproducing this effect digitally has been no mean feat, with 3D technology requiring exact knowledge of how binocular vision works to optimally reproduce this for 3D displays.
Attention in Depth
Each time we open our eyes we are confronted with an overwhelming amount of information, and as we use attention to enhance the relevant while diminishing the less relevant. How does living in a 3D environment affect our attention?
My PhD research explored this question, and found several things. First, I discovered that the 3D (depth) information in visual scenes affects the way we search for items, taking time to shift our attention between things closer and father away from us. Also, the organisation of items in 3D space affects how we search for a target.
The research I did during my first postdoc with Julie Golomb found that depth information is represented differently in the brain compared to 2D spatial information. The brain appears to transition from a generally 2D coordinate representation of space in the early visual cortex, to a more 3D representation of space as it moves higher/later in the visual cortex. In line with this, we attend to objects differently in depth than we do in 2D space.
How do we visually perceive reality, and how are those images represented in our brain? Rather than looking at large groups of people, when you look at individual differences people have in their behavioural responses and brain architecture, you can explores why those differences occur, and what they might tell us about how our brain works.
At UCL, my research explored the differences between identical and non-identical twins. Conducting a study looking at the heritability of visual perception using fMRI and behavioural methods, I found that there are some aspects of the way we perceive the world that are heritable, and also some genetic aspects to the visual cortex structure and function!
Scholarships and awards
Australian Government and University of Queensland – Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), $23,728 p.a. (2010-2013)
Australian Postgraduate Award Graduate Travel Award, University of Queensland, Australia (2011, 2012, 2013)
2013 School Award for Excellence in Tutoring, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia (2013)
EPC Student Travel Grant: Auckland, NZ (2011), Adelaide (2013)
Dean’s Commendation for High Achievement, University of Queensland (×6; 2004-2008)
Collaborators & Colleagues
Stefanie Becker (Postdoc advisor)
Sam Schwarzkopf (Postdoc advisor)
Ben de Haas
Julie Golomb (Postdoc advisor)
Philip Grove (PhD advisor)
Roger Remington (PhD advisor)
Jason Mattingley (Honours advisor)