Our visual environment is incredibly complex, and yet we deal with it effortlessly. My research takes a multilevel approach to understanding how people deal with this complexity so easily: how they perceive natural scenes and how they attend to specific elements within these scenes. I am currently developing these interests in three main directions.
First, I investigate where people look when inspecting photographs and other images. This involves analysis of visual properties (e.g. the brightness of different objects), and exploring how such properties combine with the viewers thoughts and feelings about the image.
Second, I am extending this research to look at eye movements and attention during video. By using dynamic stimuli, I am revealing new insights not possible with simpler tools. For example, the subtle shifts in conversation between a group of actors affects who is looked at, and when.
Third, I am pioneering investigations of cognition in the real world, for example by using equipment to measure which items attract attention while people are actually walking along the street.
At each level of my research I aim to describe the neural, cognitive and social influences on attention, in both typical and atypical (e.g. autism, visual agnosia, visuospatial neglect) populations. More broadly I have interests in many aspects of vision and cognition and welcome collaborations from other disciplines such as computer science.
I received my PhD from the University of Nottingham. I subsequently carried out postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, supported by a Commonwealth Fellowship. I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex in 2011 as a lecturer.