Potential PhD Projects

Vision and Attention laboratories are well equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for behavioural and physiological measurement in healthy and clinical populations. There are a wide range of projects currently running in collaboration with other members of staff in Aberdeen and elsewhere.

The following are a basic outline of some of these projects. If you are interested in any particular aspect of vision research (whether or not stated below) and would like to pursue these for postgraduate degrees, please contact me.

Blindsight: limits of visual processing after damaged visual pathway

Brain injury along the visual pathways often leads to visual deficits. However, some capacity to detect visual features may persist, even in the absence of any subjective awareness, termed blindsight. The extent of visual processing in relation to the lesion site is of interest. The findings can add to our understanding of the contribution to visual processing of the injured area. The issue of awareness of events and the mechanisms that underlie conscious perception are ideal topics to study in this clinical population.

Eye movements of healthy and clinical populations in natural environment

A typical experimental psychology experiment involves obtaining subjective responses given a detection/discrimination or rating task. These subjective reports are often collected using manual responses. Psychological theories are then developed or evaluated based on the findings. Eye movements are another source of motor output that can be used to obtain the subjective reports. However, under many conditions, the findings depend on the mode of data collection (manual versus eye-movements) and could result in contradictory conclusions!

Another issue is that the majority of models for eye movement behaviour such as visual search, rely on data obtained under strict laboratory conditions. These conditions are essential in avoiding confounds that may introduce noise or even mask out the real effects. Nevertheless, generalisation of the laboratory findings to the real world situations is an important research question. Eye movements can be used to address this questions in in normal observers and selected clinical populations.

Assessment and rehabilitation of vision loss after brain injury

It is claimed that some 30% of the stroke patients have visual problems post injury. These include visual field deficits, affecting some 7500 new cases in the UK every year. There are three classes of rehabilitation strategies that can be used to help those affected. These would fall under, substitution, compensation and restitutions techniques. Previously, we have investigated the mechanisms underlying some of the restitution and compensation techniques. Nevertheless, it is of interest to develop new techniques with better efficacy based on the recent advances in our knowledge of brain plasticity.