Continuing support is requested for investigations of the neural bases and behavioral outcomes of visual expertise training with objects, focusing on comparisons between training protocols. The proposed experimental designs contrast with state-of-the-art neuroimaging training studies, which test the effects of one training procedure at a time, making it difficult to attribute expertise effects to any specific aspect of experience. Human subjects will be trained to acquire perceptual expertise with novel objects in various training conditions, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as well as psychophysical techniques will be used to measure expertise effects. The work is motivated by a theoretical framework, the process-map hypothesis, which proposes that differences in patterns of brain activity that are elicited automatically, in a task-independent manner, by object categories, reflect the tuning of object representations to the demands of training conditions. In the proposed investigations, we will develop new training procedures to address the following questions: 1) Can experience determine the visual areas recruited by an object category, independent of its geometry? 2) What are the effects of prior exposure to an object category, either during passive viewing or during perceptual learning, in the subsequent acquisition of perceptual expertise? 3) Can geometry interact with conceptual information learned about an object to constrain the effects of experience in the acquisition of expert skills? The planned experiments will begin to build a framework in which it will become possible to predict, based on specific aspects of a training situation (e.g., object geometry, set properties, training tasks, past exposure, non-visual conceptual knowledge), behavioral and neural effects of experience with objects.

Public Health Relevance

Visual expertise is part of many critical human activities, from face perception to reading, as well as the acquisition of the perceptual skills necessary in many careers. This project aims at understanding how different types of training change the visual system to allow expert performance. This knowledge may help develop better training protocols for various diseases, including dyslexia and visual agnosia.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
Program Officer
Wiggs, Cheri
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
McGugin, Rankin W; Van Gulick, Ana E; Gauthier, Isabel (2016) Cortical Thickness in Fusiform Face Area Predicts Face and Object Recognition Performance. J Cogn Neurosci 28:282-94
Van Gulick, Ana E; McGugin, Rankin W; Gauthier, Isabel (2016) Measuring nonvisual knowledge about object categories: The Semantic Vanderbilt Expertise Test. Behav Res Methods 48:1178-96
Chua, Kao-Wei; Gauthier, Isabel (2016) Category-specific learned attentional bias to object parts. Atten Percept Psychophys 78:44-51
Cho, Sun-Joo; Wilmer, Jeremy; Herzmann, Grit et al. (2015) Item response theory analyses of the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT). Psychol Assess 27:552-66
Chua, Kao-Wei; Richler, Jennifer J; Gauthier, Isabel (2015) Holistic processing from learned attention to parts. J Exp Psychol Gen 144:723-9
Folstein, Jonathan; Palmeri, Thomas J; Van Gulick, Ana E et al. (2015) Category Learning Stretches Neural Representations in Visual Cortex. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 24:17-23
Ross, David A; Richler, Jennifer J; Gauthier, Isabel (2015) Reliability of composite-task measurements of holistic face processing. Behav Res Methods 47:736-43
Ross, David A; Gauthier, Isabel (2015) Holistic Processing in the Composite Task Depends on Face Size. Vis cogn 23:533-545
Richler, Jennifer J; Palmeri, Thomas J; Gauthier, Isabel (2015) Holistic processing does not require configural variability. Psychon Bull Rev 22:974-9
McGugin, Rankin Williams; Van Gulick, Ana E; Tamber-Rosenau, Benjamin J et al. (2015) Expertise Effects in Face-Selective Areas are Robust to Clutter and Diverted Attention, but not to Competition. Cereb Cortex 25:2610-22

Showing the most recent 10 out of 58 publications