2012 Young Investigator – Geoffrey F. Woodman

Geoffrey F. Woodman

Department of Psychology and Vanderbilt Vision Research Center
Vanderbilt University

Dr. Geoffrey F. Woodman is the 2012 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award.  Dr. Woodman is  Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Vanderbilt Vision Research Center at  Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Geoff’s important contributions to vision science range from fundamental insights into human visual cognition to the development of novel electrophysiological techniques. His uniquely integrated approach to comparative electrophysiology has demonstrated homologies between man and monkey in the ERP components underlying attention and early visual processes, enabling new understanding of their neural bases. Geoff has also made key breakthroughs in the understanding of visual working memory, placing it at the center of the interaction between high-level cognition and perception.  In the ten years since gaining his PhD, Geoff has been exceptionally productive, moving forward the core disciplines of visual perception, attention and memory,  through his many insightful and high-impact papers. His breadth, technical versatility and innovation, particularly in linking human and non-human-primate studies, represent true excellence in vision sciences research.

Elsevier/Vision Research Article

Dr. Woodman’s presentation:

Attention, memory, and visual cognition viewed through the lens of electrophysiology

Sunday, May 13, 7:00 pm, Royal Palm Ballroom

How do we find our children on a crowded playground, our keys in the kitchen, or hazards in the roadway? This talk will begin by discussing how measurements of electrical potentials from the brain offer a lens through which to observe the processing of such complex scenes unfold.  For example, I will discuss our work showing that when humans search for targets in cluttered scenes, we can directly measure the target representations maintained in visual working memory and what information is selected by attention.  Moreover, when the searched-for target is the same across a handful of trials we can watch these attentional templates in working memory handed off to long-term memory. Next, I will discuss our recent work demonstrating that redundant target representations in working and long-term memory appear to underlie our ability to exert enhanced cognitive control over visual cognition.  Finally, I will discuss our work focused on understanding the nature of these electrophysiological tools.  In studies with nonhuman primates we have the ability to record event-related potentials from outside the brain, like we do with humans, but also activity inside the brain revealing the neural network generating these critical indices of attention, memory, and a host of other cognitive processes.