Jody Culham


“The treachery of images”: How the realness of objects affects brain activation and behavior

Psychologists and neuroimagers commonly study perceptual and cognitive processes using images because of the convenience and ease of experimental control they provide.  However, real objects differ from pictures in many ways, including the potential for interaction and richer information about distance (and thus physical size). Across a series of neuroimaging and behavioral experiments, we have shown different neural responses to real objects than pictures, in terms of the level and pattern of brain activation as well as visual preferences as indicated by eye tracking.  Now that these results have shown quantitative and qualitative differences in the processing of real objects and images, the next step is to determine which aspects of real and virtual objects drive these differences.