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HOW DO WE INTERACT WITH THE WORLD? SEEING, FEELING AND WALKING

Rebecca Lawson's research

My research investigates how we use vision and haptics (our sense of active touch) during locomotion, object recognition and perceptual estimation. To do this I manipulate memory, context and attentional demands. My research spans a diverse range of topics within these broad areas.

Some specific questions that I am interested in include:

- how do our gaze strategies influence our stability whilst walking outside in everyday environments?

- how do we achieve visual and haptic object constancy (ie how do we consistently categorise objects when the same object can appear so different when we re-encounter it?)

- how do we categorise stimuli in order to discriminate between different shapes?

- what causes our visual preferences for direct eye gaze in human faces?

- what do people perceive when they look at mirrors and windows and what do people believe about how mirrors and windows work?

- what misunderstandings do people have about how everyday objects function?

If you want to contact me about my research, my email address is rlawson@liv.ac.uk.

I am always interested in discussing options for doing a PhD with me.

Examples of the types of objects (3D printed morphs, novel symmetrical objects and familiar, everyday objects) that I use in my research. Photograph thanks to Stefano Cecchetto, Rob Black and Laurence Tidbury.

I investigate how humans extract perceptual information as they move around the world and how they recognise, categorise and understand the function of everyday objects. I am interested in how gaze alters when we walk over more challenging surfaces. I test how our visual system achieves view generalisation for similar and dissimilar objects by comparing performance with novel objects to everyday, familiar objects and for 2D images relative to 3D objects. I also investigate whether accounts of visual object recognition can be extended to predict performance at haptic object recognition and if objects presented visually or haptically activate bi-modal (visual-haptic) representations. In addition I probe what people understand about how objects function and the limitations of their knowledge. Together this research provides converging evidence about how people process different sources of information about their everyday environment and familiar objects in the world. The aim is to establish a coherent theoretical framework for understanding the perceptual and conceptual processes involved in navigating through the world and in scene and object recognition and understanding.

It's easy for academics to notch up thousands of airmiles annually. Since 2004, I have stopped flying to conferences or institutions in order to reduce my carbon footprint. Email and the web reduces the need to travel and I try to combine conferences with holidays.

Forgotten why this matters? Here's one of my favourite xkcd cartoons about it.

If you want to know more about aviation and climate change try wikipedia or Airportwatch.

And if you care about your carbon emissions then ask to use a telepresence robot to present your work at distant conferences. I have requested this several times over the years to both psychology and computer science conferences. The answer has always been no. Why?


Me trying out the virtual reality facilities at the Cybernaeum at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.


Entering Voodoo Canyon in Austria (Photo: Robert Seebacher).


Muddy, after a trip down Ireby Fell Caven in Yorkshire.

Peer-reviewed publications (with links to abstracts and to PDF files) and submitted papers

Elfeky, A., D’Août, K., Lawson, R., Hepworth, L., Thomas, N. D. A., Clynch, A., Rowe, F. J. (2021). Biomechanical adaptation to post-stroke visual field loss: A systematic review. In submission.

Thomas, N. D. A., Gardiner, J. D., Crompton, R. H., & Lawson, R. (2021). Challenging walking: The influence of cognitive load and lower visual field loss on gaze and gait. In submission.

Lawson, R. (2021). Haptically identifying two familiar objects at the same time proceeds in series and independently. In preparation.

Thomas, N. D. A., Gardiner, J. D., & Lawson, R. (2021). A systematic review of the measures used to assess surfaces in relation to their impact on gait stability and falling. In preparation.

Thomas, N. D. A., Gardiner, J. D., Crompton, R. H., & Lawson, R. (2020a). Look out: An exploratory study assessing how gaze (eye angle and head angle) and gait speed are influenced by surface irregularity. PeerJ, 8, e8838. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8838 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Thomas, N. D. A., Gardiner, J. D., Crompton, R. H., & Lawson, R. (2020b). Physical and perceptual measures of walking surface complexity strongly predict gait and gaze behaviour. Human Movement Science, 71, 102615. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2020.102615 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Thomas, N. D. A., Gardiner, J. D., Crompton, R. H., & Lawson, R. (2020c). Keep your head down: Maintaining gait stability in challenging conditions. Human Movement Science, 73, 102676. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2020.102676 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Cecchetto, S., & Lawson, R. (2018). The role of contour polarity, objectness, and regularities in haptic and visual perception. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 80, 1250–1264. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-018-1499-6 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Collier, E. S., & Lawson, R. (2018a). Trapped in a tight spot: action-specific scaling effects occur when they should not, and fail to occur when they should. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 80, 971–985. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-017-1454-y Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Collier, E. S., & Lawson, R. (2018b). Getting a grasp on action-specific scaling: A response to Witt (2017). Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 26, 374–384. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-018-1511-0 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Cecchetto, S., & Lawson, R. (2017). Regularity detection by haptics and vision. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43, 103-125. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000283 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Collier, E. S., & Lawson, R. (2017a). It's out of my hands! Grasping capacity may not influence perceived object size. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43, 749-769. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000331 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Collier, E. S., & Lawson, R. (2017b). Does grasping capacity influence object size estimates? It depends on the context. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 79, 2117–2131. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-017-1344-3 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Chang, F., & Wills, A. (2017). Free classification of large sets of everyday objects is more thematic than taxonomic. Acta Psychologia, 172, 26-40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.11.001 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Uomini, N., & Lawson, R. (2017). Effects of handedness and viewpoint on the imitation of origami-making. Symmetry, 9, 182. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9090182 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Collier, E. S., & Lawson, R. (2016). Defining filled and empty space: re-assessing the filled space illusion for active touch and vision. Experimental Brain Research, 234, 2697-2708. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-016-4673-x Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Ajvani, H., & Cecchetto, S. (2016). Effects of line separation and exploration on the visual and haptic detection of symmetry and repetition. Experimental Psychology, 63, 197-214. https://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000329 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Cecchetto, S., & Lawson, R. (2015). Simultaneous sketching aids the haptic recognition of raised line drawings. Perception, 44, 743-754. https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006615594695 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2015). I just love the attention: implicit preference for direct eye contact. Visual Cognition, 23, 450-488. https://doi.org/10.1080/13506285.2015.1039101 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2014). Recognising familiar objects by hand and foot: haptic shape perception generalises to inputs from unusual locations and untrained body parts. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 76, 541–558. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-013-0559-1 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Boylan, A., & Edwards, L. (2014). Where you look can influence haptic object recognition. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 76, 559–574. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-013-0579-x Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Makin, A., Lawson, R., Bertamini, M., & Pickering, J. (2013). Auditory clicks distort perceived velocity but only when the system has to rely on extra-retinal signals. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 455-473. https://doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2013.816751 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2012). Mirrors, mirrors on the wall ... the ubiquitous multiple reflection error. Cognition, 122, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2011.07.001 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Martinovic, J., Lawson, R., & Craddock, M., (2012). Time course of information processing in visual and haptic object classification. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6:49, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00049 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Bertamini, M., Berselli, N., Bode, C., Lawson, R., & Wong, L. (2011). The rubber hand illusion in a mirror. Consciousness and Cognition, 20, 1108-1119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2011.04.006 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Craddock, M., Martinovic, J., & Lawson, R., (2011). An advantage for active versus passive aperture-viewing in visual object recognition. Perception, 40, 1154-1163. https://doi.org/10.1068/p6974 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2011). An investigation into the cause of orientation-sensitivity in haptic object recognition. Seeing and Perceiving, 24, 293-314. https://doi.org/10.1163/187847511X579052 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Bracken, S. (2011). Haptic object recognition: how important are depth cues and plane orientation? Perception, 40, 576-597. https://doi.org/10.1068/p6786 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Bertamini, M., Lawson, R., Jones, L., & Winters, M. (2010). The Venus effect in real life and in photographs. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 72, 1948-1964. https://doi.org/10.3758/APP.72.7.1948 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Craddock, M., & Lawson, R. (2010). The effects of temporal delay and orientation on haptic object recognition. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 72, 1975-1980. https://doi.org/10.3758/APP.72.7.1975 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2010). People cannot locate the projection of an object on the surface of a mirror. Cognition, 115, 336-342. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2009.12.013 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Craddock, M., & Lawson, R. (2009a). Size-sensitive perceptual representations underlie visual and haptic object recognition. PLoS ONE, 4, e8009. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008009. Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Craddock, M., & Lawson, R. (2009b). Do left and right matter for haptic recognition of familiar objects? Perception, 38, 1355-1376. https://doi.org/10.1068/p6312 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Craddock, M., & Lawson, R. (2009c). The effects of size changes on haptic object recognition. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71, 910-923. https://doi.org/10.3758/APP.71.4.910 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2009). A comparison of the effects of depth rotation on visual and haptic three-dimensional object recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 911-930. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015025 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Bertamini, M., & Lawson, R. (2008). Rapid figure-ground responses to stereograms reveal an advantage for a convex foreground. Perception, 37, 483-494. https://doi.org/10.1068/p5728 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Bertamini, M., Lawson, R., & Liu, D. (2008). Understanding 2D projections on mirrors and on windows. Spatial Vision, 21, 273-289. https://doi.org/10.1163/156856808784532527 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Craddock, M., & Lawson, R. (2008). Repetition priming and the haptic recognition of familiar and unfamiliar objects. Perception and Psychophysics, 70, 1350-1365. https://doi.org/10.3758/PP.70.7.1350 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Bülthoff, H. H. (2008). Using morphs of familiar objects to examine how shape discriminability influences view sensitivity. Perception and Psychophysics, 70, 853-877. https://doi.org/10.3758/PP.70.5.853 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2007). Local and global processing biases fail to influence face, object and word recognition. Visual Cognition, 15, 710-740. https://doi.org/10.1080/13506280601112519 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Bertamini, M., & Liu, D. (2007). Overestimation of the projected size of objects on the surface of mirrors and windows. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 33, 1027-1044. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-1523.33.5.1027 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Bertamini, M., & Lawson, R. (2006). Visual search for a circular region perceived as a figure versus as a hole: Evidence of the importance of part structure. Perception and Psychophysics, 68, 776-791. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193701 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2006). The science of cycology: Failures to understand how everyday objects work. Memory and Cognition, 34, 1667-1675. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03195929 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Bertamini, M. (2006). Errors in judging information about reflections in mirrors. Perception, 35, 1265-1288. https://doi.org/10.1068/p5498 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Bülthoff, H. H. (2006). Comparing view sensitivity in shape discrimination with shape sensitivity in view discrimination. Perception and Psychophysics, 68, 655-673. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03208766 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2004a). Recognising a plane-rotated view of a familiar object is not influenced by the ease of specifying the main axis of elongation of that object. Perception and Psychophysics, 66, 234-248. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03194875 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2004b). Depth rotation and mirror-image reflection reduce affective preference as well as recognition memory for pictures of novel objects. Memory and Cognition, 32, 1170-1181. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196890 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2004c). View-sensitivity increases for same shape matches if mismatches show pairs of more similar shapes. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 11 896-902. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196718 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (2003). The effects of context on learning to identify plane-misoriented views of familiar objects. Visual Cognition, 10, 795-821. https://doi.org/10.1080/13506280344000086 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Bülthoff, H. H., & Dumbell, S. (2003). Interactions between view changes and shape changes in picture-picture matching. Perception, 32, 1465-1498. https://doi.org/10.1068/p5031 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Jolicoeur, P. (2003). Recognition thresholds for plane-rotated pictures of familiar objects. Acta Psychologica, 112, 17-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0001-6918(02)00099-9 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Humphreys, G. W., & Jolicoeur, P. (2000). The combined effects of plane disorientation and foreshortening on picture naming: one manipulation or two? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 26, 568-581. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-1523.26.2.568 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. (1999). Achieving visual object constancy over plane rotation and depth rotation. Acta Psychologica, 102, 221-245. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0001-6918(98)00052-3 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Humphreys, G. W. (1999). The effects of view in depth on the identification of line drawings and silhouettes of familiar objects: normality and pathology. Visual Cognition, 6, 165-195. https://doi.org/10.1080/713756808 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Jolicoeur, P. (1999). The effect of prior experience on recognition thresholds for plane-disoriented pictures of familiar objects. Memory and Cognition, 27, 751-758. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03211567 Click for paper PDFor abstract.

Jolicoeur, P., Corballis, M. C., & Lawson, R. (1998). The influence of perceived rotary motion on the recognition of rotated objects. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 5, 140-146. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03209470 Click for paper PDF or Click for here for abstract.

Lawson, R., & Humphreys, G. W. (1998). View-specific effects of depth rotation and foreshortening on the initial recognition and priming of familiar objects. Perception and Psychophysics, 60, 1052-1066. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03211939 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R. & Jolicoeur, P. (1998).The effects of plane rotation on the recognition of brief masked pictures of familiar objects. Memory and Cognition, 26, 791-803. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03211398 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., & Humphreys, G. W. (1996). View-specificity in object processing: Evidence from picture matching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 22, 395-416. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-1523.22.2.395 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lawson, R., Humphreys, G. W., & Watson, D. G. (1994).Object recognition under sequential viewing conditions: evidence for viewpoint-specific recognition procedures. Perception, 23, 595-614. https://doi.org/10.1068/p230595 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Valentine, T., Bredart, S., Lawson, R., & Ward, G. (1991). What's in a name? Access to information from people's names. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 3, 147-176. https://doi.org/10.1080/09541449108406224 Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Books and chapters

Lawson, R., Fernandes, A. M., Albuquerque, & Lacey, S. (2016). Remembering touch: Using interference tasks to study tactile and haptic memory. In P. Jolicoeur, C. Lefebvre, & J. Martinez-Trujillo (Eds.), Mechanisms of Sensory Working Memory (Attention & Performance XXV). Elsevier Press. Click for paper PDF or abstract.

Lacey, S. & Lawson, R. (Eds.) (2013). Multisensory imagery: Theory and applications. New York: Springer.

Lawson, R., & Humphreys, G. W. (1998). The neuropsychology of visual object constancy. In V. Walsh & J. Kulikowski (Eds.), Perceptual Constancies: Why things look as they do. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 210-228.

On a frozen lake in Austria

North Wales, after a dive off our canoes

Daren Cilau, Where the Sun Don't Shine (photo by Patrick Warren)

Gondo canyon, Switzerland (photo by Andrew Atkinson)

Ogof Hesp Alyn, beyond the sumps (photo by Gethin Thomas)


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