2016 Meet the Professors

Monday May 16, 5:00 – 6:00 pm, Breck Deck North

Students and postdocs are invited to the first VSS “Meet the Professors” event between 5:00 and 6:00 pm on Monday night (Demo night). This will be an opportunity for a free-wheeling, open-ended discussion with members of the VSS Board and a number of other professors. You might chat about science, the meeting, building a career, or whatever comes up. Participants must “pre-register” (see Registration form below). You will select a specific professor (So that people can be evenly distributed). After 30 minutes, we will give everyone the option of staying put or moving to another table of their choice.

Note: Members of the VSS Board are indicated with *, in case you have a specific interest in talking to a member of the Board.

Derek Arnold (The University of Queensland) studies links between neural processing and conscious perceptual experience, with specific interests in human time perception, cross modal perception, and perceptual rivalry.

Jan Atkinson (University College – London) studies typical and atypical visual development (including visual attention) in infants and children e.g. Williams syndrome, autism.

Marty Banks (Berkeley) studies depth perception in humans with an emphasis on stereopsis and visual optics. He also works on display development and evaluation and thus has quite a bit of experience with industry.

Eli Brenner* (Free University, Amsterdam) studies how visual information is used to guide our actions

Angela Brown (Ohio State) studies visual sensory development in human infants (basic and clinical), and color vision and color naming in world languages

Marisa Carrasco (NYU) uses human psychophysics, neuroimaging, and computational modeling to investigate the relation between the psychological and neural mechanisms involved in visual perception and attention.

Andrew Glennerster (U. Reading, UK) studies 3D vision in freely moving observers

Mary Hayhoe* (UT-Austin) studies eye movements, visuo-motor control, attention, and memory, especially in natural behaviors.

Steve Most (U New South Wales, Sydney) studies visual attention and awareness, with special interests in the role of emotion and in building bridges between visual cognition and social- and clinical- psychology

Shin’ya Nishida (NTT, Kyoto) studies how we perceive visual movements, time, and object materials.

Jeff Schall* (Vanderbilt) studies the neural and computational mechanisms that guide, control and monitor visually-guided gaze behavior.

Jan Theeuwes (Free University, Amsterdam) studies the control of attention and eye movements

Frank Tong* (Vanderbilt) studies mechanisms of visual perception, attention, object recognition and working memory by applying psychophysical, computational and neuroimaging approaches.

Preeti Verghese* (Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute) studies spatial vision, visual search and attention, as well as eye and hand movements in normal vision and in individuals with central field loss

Andrew Watson* (NASA) studies human spatial, temporal and motion processing, computational modeling of vision, and applications of vision science to imaging technology.

Jeremy Wolfe* (Harvard Med & Brigham and Women’s Hospital) studies visual attention and visual search with a special interest in socially important tasks like cancer screening in radiology.

Yaoda Xu (Harvard) studies the neural mechanisms mediating mid- to high-level visual object representations in the human brain and the interactions of these representations with attention, visual short-term memory and task performance.

2016 Satellite Events

Computational and Mathematical Models in Vision (MODVIS)

Wednesday, May 11 – Friday, May 13
9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Wednesday, Dolphin Beach Resort, 4900 Gulf Blvd., Cypress Room
9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Thursday, Horizons, Tradewinds Island Grand
9:00 am – 12:00 pm Friday, Horizons, Tradewinds Island Grand

Organizers: Jeff Mulligan, NASA Ames Research Center; Zyg Pizlo, Purdue University; Anne Sereno, U. Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Qasim Zaidi, SUNY College of Optometry

The 5th VSS satellite workshop on Computational and Mathematical Models in Vision (MODVIS) will feature extended oral presentations on quantitative modeling of a variety of visual processes. A keynote address will be given by Prof. Steve Zucker (Yale) on Thursday afternoon.

The registration fee is $100 for regular participants, $50 for students.

WorldViz Virtual Reality Workshop

Saturday, May 14, 12:45 – 2:00 pm, Talk Room 2

Organizer: Matthias Pusch, WorldViz

Virtual Reality gets a lot of press lately, and releases about new hardware and software are coming out pretty much daily. This session will give an overview of recent trends and new technologies and discuss their use cases and limitations for research applications.

“Individual Differences in Vision” Brown Bag Lunch

Sunday, May 15, 12:45 – 2:00 pm, Talk Room 2

Organizers: Hrag Pailian1 and Jeremy Wilmer2; 1Harvard University, 2Wellesley College

Third biennial IDV Brown Bag: A whirlwind tour of the breadth of individual differences related work currently being conducted by VSS members. The event features a series of “micro-talks” where speakers give 2-minute presentations on cutting edge research that ranges across a wide variety of content areas. Bring your lunch, meet fellow researchers, and experience the power of the individual differences approach to vision!

Are there donuts in vision? Neural computation of global image configuration by a circular receptive field.

Monday, May 16, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Sawgrass

Organizers: Naoki Kogo1, Bart Machilsen1, Michele Cox2, Vicky Froyen1; 1 Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, 2Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, USA

Rüdiger von der Heydt, Johns Hopkins University
Anitha Pasupathy, University of Washington
James Elder, York University
Michele Cox, Vanderbilt University
Naoki Kogo, University of Leuven
Bart Machilsen, University of Leuven
Vicky Foryen, University of Leuven

The global visual context influences the processing of local image information in the visual system. Ample evidence for this claim comes from neurophysiological and psychophysical studies. This special interest/discussion meeting will explore plausible neural mechanisms that reflect the global configuration of an image, and the role of such a mechanism in Gestalt-like phenomena of figure-ground organization and shape representation. These phenomena demonstrate that long-range neuronal interactions modulate the coding of local image features in early visual areas. Border-ownership selective neurons, for instance, modulate their firing rate in response to the figural side of a boundary, which can only be derived from the global image context (1). To explain this mechanism, the existence of a “grouping cell” in a recurrent neural circuit has been suggested (2). From their functional role in the computation of border ownership some structural properties of these putative grouping cells have been proposed, such as a donut-shaped receptive field. The concept of a grouping cell has relevance for various lines of research: computational neuroscience, neurophysiology, and experimental psychology. This satellite event wants to facilitate cross-talk between these disciplines by approaching this putative grouping cell from different angles. For instance, the collective activities of grouping cells can result in a “medial axis” representation, similar to the skeleton-type of shape coding developed in computer vision science (3). Also, the pattern of oriented edges in natural images has revealed a co-circular organization of luminance boundaries (4), likely due to the presence of object boundaries (5). Neurophysiological data further hint at the existence of computational mechanisms to encode global configurations: Skeleton-like neural signals have been measured in V4 (6), an area where donut-shaped receptive fields have been found (7). Grouping-cell activity has also been reported for neurons aligned to the center of an illusory surface (8). This finding is in line with a recent computational model linking the coding of border-ownership to illusory surface perception (9). In this context, the neural representation of occluded shapes can help understand the neural coding of shape and depth order (10).

Taken together, the integration of approximately iso-distant edge information appears sensible given the co-circular pattern of edges in natural images and given the neurophysiological measurements and models described above. It remains to be seen whether this integrative mechanism could indeed be embedded in grouping cells with a donut-shaped receptive field. In this satellite event, the discussants from multidisciplinary backgrounds will examine the biological plausibility of this idea and discuss possible alternatives for the neural computation of global configurations in images.


  1. Zhou H, Friedman HS, von der Heydt R. J Neurosci. 2000;20(17):6594–611.
  2. Craft E, Schutze H, Niebur E, von der Heydt R. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2007;97(6):4310–26.
  3. Feldman J, Singh M. PNAS. 2006;103(47):18014–9.
  4. Sigman M, Cecchi GA, Gilbert CD, Magnasco MO. PNAS. 2001;98(4):1935–40.
  5. Machilsen B, Demeyer M, Kogo N. J Vis. 2015;15(12):331.
  6. Hung C-C, Carlson ET, Connor CE. Neuron. 2012;74(6):1099–113.
  7. Cox MA, Schmid MC, Peters AJ, Saunders RC, Leopold DA, Maier A. PNAS. 2013;110(42):17095–100.
  8. Kogo N, Strecha C, Van Gool L, Wagemans J. Psychological Review. 2010;117(2):406–39.
  9. Bushnell BN, Harding PJ, Kosai Y, Pasupathy A. J Neurosci. 2011;31(11):4012–24.

Females of Vision et al. (FoVea) Meeting

Monday May 16, 5:00 – 6:00 pm, Breck Deck North

Organizers: Diane Beck, University of Illinois; Mary Peterson, University of Arizona; Karen Schloss, Brown University; Allison Sekuler, McMaster University.

VSS women and men of all ages and stages are invited to join us for the founding gathering of Females of Vision et al. (FoVea). We’ll discuss how, collectively, we can address issues to enhance participation in and success of women in vision science. Beverages will be provided on a first-come first-served basis until our $ runs out.

2016 Ken Nakayama Medal for Excellence in Vision Science – Horace Barlow

The Vision Sciences Society is honored to present Horace Barlow with the 2016 Ken Nakayama Medal for Excellence in Vision Science.

The Ken Nakayama Medal is in honor of Professor Ken Nakayama’s contributions to the Vision Sciences Society, as well as his innovations and excellence to the domain of vision sciences.

The winner of the Ken Nakayama Medal receives this honor for high-impact work that has made a lasting contribution in vision science in the broadest sense. The nature of this work can be fundamental, clinical or applied. The Medal is not a lifetime career award and is open to all career stages.

The medal will be presented during the VSS Awards session on Monday, May 16, 2016, 12:30 pm in Talk Room 2.

Horace Barlow

Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge

Perhaps more than any other vision scientist, Horace Barlow has shaped the way we think about how seeing depends on the underlying machinery of vision. His articulation of the single neuron doctrine—that the activity of a single neuron is significant for seeing—and the corollary idea that the visual stimuli to which a neuron is most sensitive tell us about the neuron’s perceptual role, are now taken so much for granted that it is hard to appreciate how primitive were notions of the relationship between visual physiology and perception before him. His unfailing concentration on the act of seeing drove his efforts to use psychophysical and physiological insight to drive experimental measurement, and brought a clarity and incisiveness that was unlike anything that preceded it. The approaches he pioneered provide the foundation for much of contemporary visual neuroscience.

An important conceptual theme that runs through his career is information. In early work, this was evident in his rigorous application of statistical theory to understanding psychophysical and physiological thresholds. Later he applied it to higher-level perceptual decisions such as pattern recognition, symmetry perception, and perception of random dot motion. The interplay of information and efficiency underlies his work in encoding and entropy, and forms the basis of many of his theoretical contributions, notably his work on redundancy reduction and efficient coding. Information theory is now a standard part of the tool set of vision science, but it was Barlow who brought it to vision science and taught us to use it.

His profound influence on the way we think about vision should not overshadow the importance of his particular contributions, including: characterizing the nature of eye movements during fixation; establishing the quantum efficiency of vision both psychophysically and physiologically; learning the spatio-temporal organization of visual adaptation; discovering and deducing the behavioral significance of retinal ganglion cells with highly specific response properties; elucidating directional movement selectivity in retina; analyzing binocular disparity selectivity in cortex; and many more.

Barlow trained in medicine at Harvard and University College Hospital before his graduate studies with E D Adrian in Cambridge. He held faculty positions at Cambridge and at the University of California, Berkeley. He has received many honors, among them elected Fellowship, the Ferrier Lectureship, and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London, the Australia Prize, the Tillyer Award of the Optical Society of America, the Karl Spencer Lashley Prize of the American Philosophical Society, and the Swartz Prize of the Society for Neuroscience.

Barlow feels happiest, and proudest, about having worked in a community of scientists who are leaping towards a deeper understanding of the relation between brain and mind.  This goal once seemed utterly unreachable, and was openly mocked until quite recently. And in the end what he feels most grateful for is his own long association with Trinity College, where he learned the importance of arguing fiercely for strongly held beliefs.

14th Annual Dinner and Demo Night

Monday, May 16, 2016, 6:00 – 10:00 pm

Beach BBQ: 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Beachside Sun Decks
Demos: 7:00 – 10:00 pm, Talk Room 1-2, Royal Tern, Snowy Egret, Compass, Spotted Curlew and Jacaranda Hall

Please join us Monday evening for the 14th Annual VSS Dinner and Demo Night, a spectacular night of imaginative demos solicited from VSS members. The demos highlight the important role of visual displays in vision research and education. This year’s Demo Night will be organized and curated by Gideon Caplovitz, University of Nevada, Reno; Arthur Shapiro, American University; Gennady Erlikhman, University of Nevada, Reno and Karen Schloss, Brown University.

Demos are free for all registered VSS attendees and their families and guests. The Beach BBQ is free for attendees, but YOU MUST WEAR YOUR BADGE to receive dinner. Guests and family members must purchase a ticket for the Beach BBQ. You can register your guests at any time at the VSS Registration Desk, located in the Grand Palm Colonnade. A desk will also be set up on the Seabreeze Terrace at 6:30 pm.

Guest Prices: Adults $25, Youth (6-12 years old) $10, Children under 6 are free.

The following demos will be presented from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, in Talk Room 1-2, Royal Tern, Snowy Egret, Compass, Spotted Curlew and Jacaranda Hall:

Action Adaptation Demo

Stephan de la Rosa, Laura Fademrecht, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
It is often assumed that visual action recognition is robust and hence the same action is always perceived in the same way. Contrary to this assumption, this demonstration will show that action recognition is malleable and can be transiently changed by the prolonged exposure to an action.

Audiovisual Rabbit Illusion

Monica Li, Noelle Stiles, Shinsuke Shimojo, Caltech
In general, vision dominates perception in the spatial domain, and audition in the temporal. What does one perceive when conflicting stimuli are presented in the spatial and temporal domain? We have found that audition can “postdictively” (i.e. retroactively) produce or suppress a visual flash. Stop by to view the audiovisual illusory and invisible rabbit, as well as the double flash illusion and an augmented color phi phenomenon.

Biological Motion

Andre Gouws, Tim Andrews, Rob Stone, University of York
A real-time demonstration of biological motion. Walk, jump, dance in front of the sensor and your actions are turned into a point light display, Using an X-box Kinect sensor and our free software, you can produce this effect for yourself.

Blink-Induced-Blindness During Multiple Object Tracking

Deborah J. Aks, Zenon Pylyshyn, Rutgers University; Jiye Shen, SR Research Ltd.
Your eye-blinks will trigger changes during multiple-object-tracking. Can you distinguish whether objects halt or continue to move during eye-blinks, or which objects have changed surface properties? Perceptual suppression may render you less aware than you might expect.

Contour Camouflage

Zhiheng Zhou, Lars Strother, University of Nevada, Reno
We show three types of perceptual hysteresis in which a contour either appears or disappears. First, a camouflaged contour becomes visible as the density of a background becomes insufficiently dense to maintain camouflage. Second, a contour becomes invisible as the density of a camouflaging background becomes sufficiently dense to conceal the contour. Third, a contour becomes visible against a camouflaging background and remains visible for up to several seconds and eventually fades. Interestingly, the smoothness of the contour modulates the duration of visibility or camouflage similarly in all three cases.

Co-Presence Experience with Wide Area Tracked System

Matthias Pusch, WorldViz
An interactive Virtual Reality experience will be shown in a large area tracked space.
The system will utilize Oculus hardware for one participant and HTV VIVE hardware for the other participant. The participants will be able to see representations of each other in the Virtual Space, experience interactivity and collaboration and will even be able to give each other a virtual ‘high five’, which will match the real reality ‘high five’.

Estimating Human Colour Sensors from Simple Colour Ranking

Dr. Maryam Darrodi, University of East Anglia
Let’s find out how your cones respond to a certain colour category say red. The task is to simply rank some colour pairs in terms of redness. Through “Rank-Based Spectral Estimation” technique the result will be a transformation from your cone spectral sensitivities to the hypothetical internal representations of red.

The Ever-Popular Beuchet Chair

Peter Thompson, Rob Stone, Tim Andrews, University of York
A favorite at demo Night for the past few years, the Beuchet chair is back with yet another modification. The two parts of the chair are at different distances and the visual system fails to apply size constancy appropriately. The result is people can be shrunk or made giants.

Eye Movement Induced Apparent Movement

Frédéric Gosselin, Université de Montréal
While you eye track the tip of a moving pencil, sparse bright dots flashed periodically appear to move in the direction opposite to that of the pencil at a speed inversely proportional to the flash rate.

Illusory Drifting Within a Window

Stuart Anstis, University of California San Diego; Sae Kaneko, Tohoku University
When a striped disk moves across a flickering background, the stripes paradoxically seem to move faster than the disk itself. We attribute this illusion to reverse-phi motion, which slows down the disk rim but does not affect the stripes.

An Inconsistency Between Different Ways of Matching Seen and Felt Positions

Eli Brenner, Cristina de la Malla, Irene Kuling, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
If you try to move your hidden right hand to a visible target you will end up slightly off the target. The same will happen if you do this with your left hand. Will the two hands feel aligned after they have both been matched to the same visual target?

The Money Business Illusion

Anthony Barnhart, Carthage College
The Money Business Illusion demonstrates how time-tested techniques from the theatre can be fused with standard psychophysical tasks from the laboratory to create ecologically valid stimuli for empirical research in attention and perception.

Motion Aftereffects and Grating Induction in a Blank Field

Christopher Tyler, Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Motion aftereffects are generally understood to require a patterned test field for their induction. Following fixation an induction field of eccentricity-scaled moving bands, however, this demo exhibits strong bands of motion in a blank test field, perhaps thus corresponding to Wertheimer’s (1912) concept of “pure phi”.

Orbiting Black/White Rays Produce an ‘Illusory’ Grey Disk

Sae Kaneko, Tohoku University; Stuart Anstis, Neal Dykmans, University of California San Diego; Patrick Cavanagh, Dartmouth College; Mark Mitton, Magician
A black and white sectored pattern is moved in a circular orbit at 3—4Hz, without rotating. Result: an illusory smaller uniform gray disk centred within the sectored pattern, with diameter about equal to the orbit. Disk looks larger during dark adaptation. Explanation: Time averaging plus motion deblurring.

Perceived 3D Shape Toggles Perceived Glow

Minjung Kim, New York University, York University; Laurie M. Wilcox, Richard F. Murray, York University
What makes an object appear to emit light, or glow? We show that perceived 3D shape is critical to the appearance of glow, and that we can toggle the perceived glow on and off when motion or binocular disparity information is used to invert a surface’s perceived 3D shape.

Point-Light Motion Materials: Shattering and Splattering, Can You Guess the Substance?

Alexandra C. Schmid, Katja Doerschner, University of Giessen
Image motion in point-light walkers provides a powerful cue to biological motion. We will present simulations of point-light materials that shatter, splatter, squish, tear and flop. Can you guess what substance each object is made of? When the optical properties of the materials are revealed, find out how they interact with motion cues to alter your perception of each substance.

Real-Time Removal of Low-Spatial-Frequency Content

Laysa Hedjar, Erica Dixon, Arthur Shapiro, American University
We remove low spatial frequency content from a video camera’s real time feed. The resultant image can account for many brightness illusions and shows invariance to changes in the color of the global illumination.

Reversing Active Visual Experience: Vivid Perception During Saccades

Martin Rolfs, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin; Eric Castet, CNRS & Aix-Marseille University; Sven Ohl, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Active vision relies on information reaching the eyes during fixation. Motion, blur, and temporal gaps introduced by saccadic eye movements escape our experience. Using a high-speed projection system, we will induce vivid motion perception during saccades—revealing the gaps between fixations—and explore factors that disguise it in normal vision.

Self-Luminosity Perception in a Reverspective

Alan Gilchrist, Rutgers Newark
Use of a 3D canvas, as in the delightful “reverspective” paintings of Patrick Hughes, allows a larger luminance range than normal, because different facets of the canvas receive different amounts of illumination. Viewed monocularly the observer sees a hallway (concave) with a white ceiling and glowing ceiling lights. Seen with two eyes, the display is convex, lit from above, the “ceiling” is black, and the “lights” are merely white trapezoids.

SMI Demonstrates Eye Tracking for Immersive Perception Research Based on Samsung Gear VR Headset

Lisa Richardson, SensoMotoric Instruments, Inc.
SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) will demonstrate their proven Eye Tracking HMD technology for immersive perception research. The new product, based on a Samsung GearVR headset, supports instant live observation of eye movements in the virtual scene and brings undeniable benefits to spatial cognition research and similar projects.

Stimulus Induced Nystagmus and Dynamic Pupil Demonstrations

Greg Perryman, Kurt Debono, SR Research Ltd.
Experience immediate feedback based on your pupil-size as you observe simple stimuli or undertake a simple cognitive load task. In another demonstration, experience nystagmus eye-movements generated from a moving sin-wave grating.

The Stolen Voice Illusion

David Brang, Satoru Suzuki, Marcia Grabowecky, Northwestern University
Male and female faces articulating phonemes are presented sequentially with increasing delay. Although speakers’ voices are always mismatched (e.g., male-face/female-voice), individuals fail to notice the gender-mismatch even at delays of ~500 ms. This novel illusion reveals that visual identity information overrides auditory temporal cues about when a voice is heard.


Brought to you by VSS and the Demo Night Committee
Back by popular demand. Strobe lights and ping pong!

Suppression of Saccadic Suppression

Peter April, Jean-Francois Hamelin, Stephanie-Ann Seguin, Danny Michaud, VPIXX Technologies
This demo uses the PROPixx high refresh rate DLP projector to show stimuli which are invisible during your fixations, and which magically appear only during your saccades.

The Synoptic Art Experience

Maarten Wijntjes, Fan Zhang, Delft University of Technology
The synopter gives both eyes similar perspectives, thus annihilating binocular disparities and removing the flatness cue of the picture surface. We found that it is very interesting an enjoyable to specifically use the synopter for viewing artworks. You will be able to synoptically view a large variety of paintings.

Thatcherize Your Face

Andre Gouws, Peter Thompson, University of York
The Margaret Thatcher illusion is one of the best-loved perceptual phenomena. Here you will have the opportunity to see yourself ‘thatcherized’ in real time and we print you a copy of the image to take away.

Vision Scientists Still Love Drifting Gabors

Matthew Harrison, Gennady Erlikhman, Gideon Caplovitz, University of Nevada, Reno
Building off our demonstration from last year, we present several novel configurations of drifting Gabors that result in surprising global motion percepts.

2016 Young Investigator – Nicholas Turk-Browne

Nicholas Turk-Browne

Associate Professor, Associate Chair, Department of Psychology, Princeton University

Nicholas Turk-Browne is the 2016 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award. Trained at the University of Toronto and then at Yale University, Nicholas Turk-Browne was awarded a PhD in Cognitive Psychology in 2009 under the supervision of Marvin Chun and Brian Scholl. Following his PhD, Nick took up a position at Princeton University, where he is currently an associate professor.

In the past 7 years following his PhD, Nick has established an active and dynamic lab that uses multidisciplinary methodologies to advance our understanding of the neural circuits that mediate visual cognition. Nick combines behavior, brain imaging, and computational modeling to bridge across key areas in the field of visual cognition: visual learning, memory and attention. His pioneering work on visual statistical learning has demonstrated that our ability to extract perceptual regularities relies on interactions between the hippocampus and the visual cortex. Nick has shown that this circuit supports predictive representations based on implicitly learned associations. Further, his work shows that — although implicit — statistical learning can be modulated by task demands and, in turn, learned regularities automatically draw attention. Nick’s contributions extend to groundbreaking methodological developments that combine neuroimaging and machine learning to understand the brain dynamics that support visual cognition. Finally, Nick’s recent work using neural fluctuations as feedback during real-time fMRI to train attention has strong potential for translational clinical applications. 

Elsevier/Vision Research Article

Attention and perception in memory systems

Monday, May  16, 12:30 pm, Talk Room 2

The labeling of brain structures by function, such as the “visual” system, “attention” networks, and “memory” systems, reinforces an appealing division of cognitive labor over the brain. At the same time, neural representations can be widely distributed and real-world behaviors require the coordination of much of the brain. An alternative way to think about brain function is in terms of the computations that different brain regions and networks perform and to try to understand when and how these computations participate in different cognitive processes. In this presentation, I will discuss some recent findings from my lab that illustrate this perspective, particularly about the involvement of memory systems in attention and perception. First, I will show that goal-directed attention modulates the state of the hippocampus — the canonical memory system in the brain — and through this, determines what aspects of visual experience we remember. Second, I will show that pattern completion, a core computation of the hippocampus, supports predictive coding in early visual cortex. These and other studies highlight the broad reach of vision science in the mind and brain.


2016 Funding Workshop

VSS Workshop on Grantsmanship and Funding Agencies

No registration required. First come, first served, until full.

Saturday, May 14, 2016, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Snowy Egret

Discussants: Michael Steinmetz, Todd Horowitz and Aude Oliva

You have a great research idea, but you need money to make it happen. You need to write a grant. But where can you apply to get money for vision research? What do you need to know before you write a grant? How does the granting process work? Writing grants to support your research is as critical to a scientific career as data analysis and scientific writing. In this session, Mike Steinmetz (National Eye Institute) and Todd Horowitz (National Cancer Institute) will give you insight into the inner workings of the extramural program at the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, Aude Oliva will present information on funding opportunities for vision science at the National Science Foundation, and on collaborative programs between NSF and NIH.

Michael Steinmetz

Michael is the Acting Director, Division of Extramural Research at the National Eye Institute (NEI). Dr. Steinmetz was a faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience and the Zanvyl Krieger Mind-Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University for twenty years. His research program studied the neurophysiological mechanisms of selective attention and spatial perception by combining behavioral studies with single-unit electrophysiology in awake monkeys and fMRI experiments in humans. Dr. Steinmetz has extensive experience at NIH, both as a Scientific Review Administrator and as a program officer. He also represents the NEI on many inter-agency and trans-NIH committees, including the NIH Blueprint; the NIH/NSF Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) program; the BRAIN project; and the DOD vision research group. Dr. Steinmetz also serves as the NEI spokesperson for numerous topics in visual neuroscience.

Todd Horowitz

Todd is Program Director in the Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). He came to this position after spending 12 years as Principal Investigator at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, where he studied visual search and multiple object tracking. At NCI, he is responsible for promoting basic research in attention, perception, and cognition, as well as serving on the trans-NIH Sleep Research coordinating committee.

Aude Oliva

Aude is a Principal Research Scientist in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence laboratory (CSAIL), MIT, leading the Computational Perception and Cognition group in multi-disciplinary research ventures. She has been appointed as an Expert at the National Science Foundation for 2016, in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Information and Intelligent Systems (CISE/IIS). At NSF, she participates to the CRCNS (Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience) program, in partnership with NIH and international research funding agencies. She is also involved with the Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems (NCS) program, a novel BRAIN-related multi-disciplinary solicitation across four NSF directorates (Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Education & Human Resources, Engineering and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences).

2016 Davida Teller Award – Janette Atkinson

VSS established the Davida Teller Award in 2013. Davida was an exceptional scientist, mentor and colleague, who for many years led the field of visual development. The award is therefore given to an outstanding woman vision scientist with a strong history of mentoring.

Vision Sciences Society is honored to present Dr. Janette Atkinson with the 2016 Davida Teller Award.

Janette Atkinson

Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London
Visiting Professor, University of Oxford
Visual Development Unit, London and Oxford

Janette Atkinson is a worldwide leader in research on human visual development. She has made major advances in an extraordinarily wide range of basic and clinical areas, collaborating throughout her career, with vision scientists, ophthalmologists, optometrists and pediatric neurologists. Her impact on the field has been immense, both directly through innovative research, and indirectly through her mentorship and personal support to her students and collaborators.

Her career began in Cambridge University where she set up and led one of the first ‘baby labs’, the Visual Development Unit at Cambridge and subsequently at University College London (UCL, University of London) and Oxford. She was the first to use Davida Teller’s method of forced-choice preferential looking to measure contrast sensitivity, initially in the first months of life of her own child (Nature 1974), and subsequently with novel VEP measures in newborns. Using newly devised behavioral and VEP/ERP methods, she demonstrated the onset of binocularity, orientation sensitivity, OKN, and fixation shift control of attention, leading to her pioneering neural model of cortical/subcortical interaction in early human development. Janette originated the use of photorefraction and videorefraction with infants, and led two unique population screening studies showing that spectacle correction of infants’ refractive errors could improve visual outcome, reducing strabismus and amblyopia by 4 years of age. Having used her methods of assessing cortical development with at-risk groups, particularly infants born preterm and children with Williams syndrome, she has moved on to studying global processing, leading to her influential idea of ‘Dorsal Stream Vulnerability’ in many children with genetic developmental disorders, perinatal brain injury and CVI (Cerebral Visual Impairment). She argues for the continuity and associations in dorsal stream development between global motion and attentional, spatial, visuo-cognitive, and visuomotor development, and has devised assessments for this whole area in both typical and atypically developing children.

She has been a mentor and advisor, giving generous support to many students, colleagues and collaborators, both scientists and clinicians, and a role model showing young female scientists that the highest levels can be reached while sustaining close family life with her four children. More widely, she has been a tireless advocate for women’s scientific careers, as a member of ARVO’s Equality and Diversity Committee and through the UK’s Athena SWAN scheme for advancing women’s careers in science. She led UCL’s successful bid for a SWAN Charter Award, one of the first 12 UK universities to achieve this award.

In recognition of her internationally acclaimed research record, she has been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academia Europaea.

Visual science as a key to typical and atypical development

Monday, May 16, 2016, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Talk Room 2

My research on vision development has always been inspired by the prospect of understanding and helping the development of vision in infants and children with clinical problems, including developmental disorders such as autism, Downs syndrome and cerebral palsy.  Initial advances in the basic science of human visual development, since the first measurements of infants’ acuity and contrast sensitivity, have led directly into applications for identifying and assessing  paediatric  ophthalmological and neurodevelopmental  visual disorders.

I will briefly review a few diverse highlights of our own translational work in the Visual Development Unit, and suggest unanswered questions arising from our current knowledge:

  • Indicators of the onset of visual cortical function, based on our model of cortical/subcortical interactions, allowed us to identify  infants with perinatal brain injury (some with very preterm birth) resulting in CVI (Cerebral Visual Impairment ) and  predict subsequent neurocognitive outcome.
  • Measurements of infants’ accommodation and refraction using photorefractive instruments designed in the VDU,   made it possible to carry out population screening programmes of  8000+ typically developing  9- month old infants identifying those  at risk of strabismus and amblyopia.  We demonstrated that early spectacle correction of infants with significant hyperopic refractive errors could reduce the number of children who develop these common disorders.
  • Tests of children’s global form and motion processing in  extra-striate visual  areas identified ‘dorsal stream vulnerability’ as a feature of many diverse neurodevelopmental disorders e.g. Williams syndrome, autism , hemiplegia. Recently we have found that global motion sensitivity is associated with MRI surface area structural measures in parietal lobe in typically developing children. Good motion sensitivity is correlated with good visuo-motor ability and good early mathematical ability.   Poor global motion sensitivity, relative to static form sensitivity, in children with developmental disorders, is associated with spatial, visuo-motor and attention deficits.
  • Child-friendly tests of visual attention (the Early Child Attention Battery devised in the VDU)   enable an individual child’s attention  profile of abilities across different components of attention,   to be measured rapidly  in both typically developing preschool children and in children with genetic developmental disorders  with low mental age.

My research has started to answer questions about both the typical and atypical developing visual brain, but it has raised many more unanswered ones. For example , we still do not know the critical period of plasticity for many of the visual networks which develop in the first few years of life. If we understood the epigenetic factors controlling early visual brain growth and plasticity, then this might lead to success in future treatment of paediatric visual disorders.  My hope is that some of these questions will be answered by future vision researchers (both women and men !) coming into the ‘developmental arena’ from a wide range of different disciplines.

2016 Student Travel Awards

Martin Bossard
Aix-Marseille University
Advisor: Daniel R. Mestre
Ben Deen
Advisors: Rebecca Saxe, Nancy Kanwisher
Jolande Fooken
University of British Columbia
Advisor: Miriam Spering
Kamila Jozwik
University of Cambridge
Advisors: Marieke Mur, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte
Yaelan Jung
University of Toronto
Advisor: Dirk Bernhardt-Walther
Minjung Kim
York University, Toronto, New York University
Advisors: Richard Murray, Laurence Maloney
Erin Koch
SUNY College of Optometry
Advisor: Qasim Zaidi
Matthew Leavitt
McGill University
Advisor: Julio C. Martinez-Trujillo
Alina Liberman
University of California, Berkeley
Advisor: David Whitney
Michael Melnick
University of Rochester
Advisor: Krystel Huxlin
Sorato Minami
Osaka University
Advisor: Kaoru Amano
Scott Mooney
University of Sydney
Advisor: Barton Anderson
Vivian Paulun
Justus-Liebig University Giessen
Advisors: Roland W. Fleming, Karl R. Gegenfurtner
Andrew Persichetti
Emory University
Advisor: Daniel D. Dilks
Rosanne Rademaker
University of California San Diego
Advisors: Alexander T. Sack, Sam Ling, John Serences
Yulia Revina
University of Glasgow
Advisor: Lars Muckli
Samantha Strong
University of Bradford
Advisor: Declan McKeefry
Daan van Es
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Advisor: Tomas Knapen
Kedarnath Vilankar
Cornell University
Advisor: David J. Field
Aspen Yoo
New York University
Advisor: Wei Ji Ma

2016 Public Lecture – Patrick Cavanagh

Patrick Cavanagh

Université Paris Descartes

Patrick Cavanagh is the head of the Centre of Attention and Vision at the Université Paris Descartes and a Distinguished Research Professor at Dartmouth College. He received a undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University in 1968 and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1972. He taught at the Université de Montréal from 1972 to 1989 and then at Harvard University from 1989 to 2008. Current projects study the roles of visual attention in selecting and creating visual representations, and the properties and strategies of visual attention in normal and brain damaged subjects. He has also explored the contribution of various features such as shadow, color, motion, and texture to representations of visual form and these experiments led to his interest in art as a source of data for neuroscience.

The Artist as Neuroscientist

Saturday, May 14, 11:00 am, Museum of Fine Arts, Marly Room, St. Petersburg, Florida

A piece of art can trigger many emotions and impressions, many of them just as the artist intended. However, the same painting may also reveal, unintentionally, much about the workings of the brain: how the brain recovers the light and space and surfaces that we see. Painters often stray from photorealistic styles, taking liberties with the rules of physics to achieve a more effective painting. Critically, some of these transgressions of physics such as impossible shadows, shapes, or reflections go unnoticed by viewers – these undetected errors are the ones that tell us which rules of physics actually count for visual perception. As artists find the rules they can break without penalty, they act as neuroscientists and we have only to look at their paintings to uncover and appreciate their discoveries. Which means that 40,000 years of art also counts as 40,000 years of documented, neuroscience research, a record unmatched in any other discipline. We will survey art from cave paintings to the modern era and show how to do “science by looking”, unlocking the discoveries in art every time you give it a painting a second, knowing look.

Cavanagh, P. (2005) The artist as neuroscientist. Nature, 434, 301-307.
Cavanagh, P., Chao, J., & Wang, D. (2008). Reflections in art. Spatial Vision, 21, 261-270.
Perdreau, F. & Cavanagh, P. (2011). Do artists see their retinas? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5:171.
Sayim, B., & Cavanagh P. (2011). The art of transparency. i-Perception, 2, 679-696.
Sayim, B., & Cavanagh P. (2011). What line drawings reveal about the visual brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5:118, 1-4

Attending the Public Lecture

The lecture is free to the public with admission to the museum. (Museum members: Free; Adults $17; Seniors 65 and older $15; Military with Id $15; College Students $10; Students 7-18 $10; Children 6 and under Free)

VSS attendees will receive free admission to the Museum May 13-18 by showing your meeting badge.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

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