Nicolas Davidenko

2015 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Psychology
UC Santa Cruz

Project Title: How experience shapes orientation-dependent visual processing


1-minute video on research:

Our visual system is highly sensitive to visual orientation. For example, most of us are experts at recognizing faces and reading text, but performance plummets when faces or text are presented upside-down or in other unusual orientations. Intriguingly, some people are much more sensitive to angular rotation than others, which may at the root of reading and face processing disorders. The goal of this project is to conduct a 3-phase experiment to examine how individuals’ daily experience with rotated visual stimuli may explain their sensitivity to stimulus orientation in these complex visual processing tasks.

In Phase 1, participants will wear video recording glasses to record samples of their visual input over a 5-day period. In Phase 2, a team of researchers will encode the orientation of face and text stimuli that appear in these videos. In Phase 3, participants will return to the lab and participate in a face recognition and reading comprehension test, where we will manipulate the visual orientation of stimuli. We predict that individual performance on these tasks will correlate with individuals’ exposure to stimuli at different orientations in their daily lives. Importantly, understanding the relationship between orientation exposure and performance may inspire new approaches to facilitate face recognition and reading impairments in affected populations.