Research

My research interests primarily involve the study of object-recognition, within two distinct areas: face-processing and driving. My interests in face-processing centre around two themes: (a) what is the nature of the facial representations that are used for individual recognition? (b) What representations underly our ability to judge a person's age on the basis of their facial characteristics? I am also interested in how facial representations develop in children with increasing age. Currently I am collaborating with Dr Jeremy Tree, at the University of Swansea, on research into the neuropsychology of face processing: we are performing a series of studies on a developmental prosopagnosic (an individual who has a specific inability to recognise faces), in an attempt to elucidate more clearly the neuropsychological underpinnings of face representations.
I have also been working with Dr. Peter Hills (University of East Anglia) and Professor Peter Hancock (University of Stirling) on separate projects relating to the role of facial familiarity in face adaptation effects.
 
My research on driving focuses on the attentional and perceptual problems associated with driving: what information do drivers use in order to detect other road-users, and how is this affected by mobile phones and other distractions? Driving places great demands on perceptual processing: the speed with which vehicles travel means that object-recognition (and decisions based upon it) has to be performed uner considerable time pressure.  I am particularly interested in the perceptual strategies that people use in order to cope: one idea that I have explored is that drivers might use "shorthand codes" as substitutes for more elaborated perceptual representations. (e.g., at junctions, drivers might look for headlights instead of motorcycles, if they have learnt that motorcyclists usually use their headlights).