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Gauthier, Isabel, Department of Psychology

Isabel Gauthier, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
308A Wilson Hall
615-322-1778 (office)

Dr. Gauthier studies visual object recognition, with particular emphasis on the plasticity of recognition mechanisms and their neural substrate. One issue that is of particular interest to her is how the visual system organizes itself into what appears to be category-specific modules. For instance, face recognition is often given as an example of a highly specialized module that may function independently from general object recognition mechanisms. However, faces are among the most visually similar objects that we need to recognize individually and most of us acquire a large amount of expertise in doing so throughout our lives. A diversity of techniques (e.g., expertise training with computer-generated objects, brain-lesion studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments) can be used in order to explore factors that may contribute to the tuning of general mechanisms for the particular problem of face recognition. Current research continues to explore the role of expertise in object recognition, including new lines of research into perceptual expertise with letters and also haptic expertise. Other projects include looking at the role of spatial frequencies in various visual areas involved in object recognition and investigating interactions between the visual and semantic systems.

For more information, please visit the lab website.