Catherine L Reed

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Research: Vision, Touch, and Body

Using the tools of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and functional neuroimaging (EEG/ERP), we investigate the role that the body plays in directing our perception, attention, object recognition, emotional processing, and financial decision making.

  • Contributions of Configural Processing & Expertise to Body Perception. It is important for humans to recognize others’ identities, facial expressions, and postures. Only recently have psychologists recognized the body’s contributions expert visual processing. We investigate how we recognize other people’s body postures, how one’s own body posture influences our perceptions other people’s intentions, and how our bodily experience influences our perception.
  • Contributions of Body Placement and Tool Use to Spatial Attention. Objects in our environment can demand immediate attention and physical responses. Our own body position as well as other people’s body positions influence where we focus our attention. Hand position can facilitate visual target detection and trunk orientation can bias where we shift our attention. Also, our experience driving and using tools can change the distribution of our attention across the visual field. Using behavioral and EEG methods, we examine the neural substrates of embodied attention processes.
  • Contributions of the Body to Emotional Perception. Emotion is communicated by touch, body posture, and movement, as well as by faces. We examine whether using the face or body to express specific emotions can influence the effectiveness of emotional communication and whether different emotions are expressed differently depending on to whom it is being communicated.
  • ‘What’, ‘Where’, and ‘How’ Systems in Somatosensory & Multimodal Object Processing. We investigate the functional organization of object recognition, spatial localization, and action planning in the brain. Specifically we investigate whether touch and vision have analogous neural pathways for object (“what”) and spatial (“where”) processing, and how visual and tactile information is integrated in the brain.
  • Embodied Decision Making. Our newest line of research investigates how the body and its emotional states affect economic decision making.