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Nathan Witthoft
Research Associate

I am broadly interested in studying the relationship between memory and perception using methods from behavioral psychology, neuroscience, and a lot of talking to myself and others. This question has many loose ends and it is hard (for me) to pick just one. (Maybe I think if I pull all the ends at once the knot will come undone). One approach is to try to understand if and how the past influences current visual experience. Some of the things I have done in this line (in collaboraton with many others) are work on face adaptation, the role of language in color perception, top down perceptual reorganization in kids, unsupervised learning of novel shape dimensions, and the role of learning in synesthesia. A second strand I like to think about is, if and to what degree, our thoughts and memories make use of, or are instantiated by perceptual mechanisms. The work on synesthesia is most directly relevant to this question, as I think it speaks to the nature of mental imagery and why we judge some mental experiences to be more perceptual than others. Finally, there is the question of recognition. How is it that we connect some visual experience to a name? The main work I am doing in this area is studying congenital prosopagnosia (though questions of recognition are important in many of the other experiments I have worked on) using behavior and neuroimaging.