Jun 082012

Several studies have shown that at standard fMRI resolution, expertise with objects can engage the fusiform face selective areas. We are conducting work with high resolution fMRI to explore what is changing at a finer spatial scale when people acquire expertise with objects.

We are also using ultra-high resolution imaging to follow-up on our findings that cortical thickness in the fusiform face area can predict both face and object recognition ability, although in different directions. We are exploring the possibility that this reflects different age of acquisition for these different skills, resulting in individual differences reflected in different layers of the cortex, because of the action of different plasticity mechanisms (e.g., pruning vs. synaptogenesis and angiogenesis).

Jun 082012

How does experience change the functional specialization of the higher visual cortex? We are studying the behavioral and neural changes that take place when people acquire experience reading music. So far, we have found this kind of expertise to be qualitatively different from what has been obtained for “face-like” expertise (being good at individuating visually similar objects) or expertise with letters. Studying this and other kinds of experts allow us to develop a more general framework to explain perceptual expertise, one that can deal with learning all sorts of different skills.

This work is supported in part by NSF grant #SBE 0542013 to the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, an NSF Science of Learning Center.

Jun 082012

I am broadly interested in the cognitive mechanisms involved in visual object recognition and categorization, and how these processes are modulated by experience and expertise. Most of my research has used faces – a category with which we are all experts – to study one behavioral marker of perceptual expertise, holistic processing. Previous work in this area has focused on determining whether holistic processing arises due to a holistic representation or an automatized perceptual strategy, the time course of holistic processing, and how holistic processing is affected by stimulus manipulations such as spatial frequency content and inversion. New projects are aimed at studying individual differences in holistic processing, and how these relate to face recognition performance and more general individuation learning abilities.

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Jennifer’s CV

Jun 082012

I am primarily interested in studying mid- and high-level visual perception, its neural bases, and its interaction with other cognitive processes.  My past research has investigated object recognitive and object memory in relation to surface color.  I am interested in studying how color and other object properties influence visual perception and cognition because of how these findings can help us understand the nature object perception more generally.  Future reserach will continue to investigate these processes for particular object classes including faces, places objects of action, and novel objects, and will evaluate the effect of perceptual expertise through both development and repeated experience as an adult.  My reserach is influenced by theoretical issues in philosophy of mind  and philosophy of perception, in particular the dissociation of phenomenal conscious visual experience and the neural mechanisms of visual perception.  I investigate these phenomenon using both behavioral and cognitive neuroscience techniques such as functional neuroimaging and by incorporating these findings into a broader theoretical framework.



Ana’s CV