A Neurocognitive Approach to Expertise in Visual Object Recognition

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Find this in a Library

Catalog Record


How can we enhance the ability of observers to pick-up visual information? One approach to this question has been to investigate people who naturally develop an exceptional skill, or expertise, in visual object recognition (e.g. bird watchers, car buffs), and determine how expert processing and the neural substrates supporting it differ from those in novices. The present paper will describe the mainstream view of visual expertise, which considers it to be an automatic, stimulus-driven perceptual skill that is supported by specific regions in high-level visual cortex. Following a critical review of the perceptual framework of expertise, a series of neuroimaging studies will be presented which reveal that in contrast to the mainstream view, visual expertise emerges from multiple interactions within and between the visual system and other cognitive systems (e.g. top-down attention and conceptual memory). These interactions are manifest in widespread distributed patterns of activity across the entire cortex, and are highly susceptible to high-level factors, such as task relevance and prior knowledge. Lastly, the applied and theoretical implications of the interactive framework to performance enhancement and neuroplasticity will be discussed.


Presented at the 9th International Conference on Augmented Cognition, Los Angeles, CA, August 2-7, 2015.



Catalog Record