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What visual perception can tell us about social interaction

George Mather, Professor of Vision Science at the University of Lincoln, is carrying out research into social interactions and the information people use to judge the intentions, moods and actions of other people.

Professor Mather has a long history of research in motion perception and his work has explored a variety of topics, from the visual cues people use to make judgements about stature in sculptural art, to the difficulty of making accurate line calls in tennis.

He uses a combination of perceptual experiments and computer modelling to understand the underlying brain processes.

There remains limited scientific understanding of how the human visual system makes sense of the flurry of movement we see around us in modern societies.

Professor Mather is leading a project investigating the mechanisms behind this crucial ability to perceive and interpret the intentions of other people from the way they move.

He aims to bridge this gap in the academic literature through a series of world-first experiments that could help to unlock the mysteries of how the brain makes sense of the hustle and bustle of human activity we see around us every day. The aim is to shed new light on the process by which the human visual system identifies and decodes ‘dynamic cues of social intention’.

“We need to be able to judge action very accurately in order to be able to make judgements about social intention and mood.”

This would give new knowledge about the link between the visual part of the brain and the social part of the brain and how those two sources of processing link together.

Professor Mather has more than 25 years of experience in teaching courses on human visual perception and the psychology of visual art to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

He is the author of: 
Essentials of Sensation and Perception (2011), 
Foundations of Sensation and Perception (2009),
The Motion After-Effect: A Modern Perspective (1998, co-edited with Stuart Anstis and Frans Verstraten).

His most recent publication The Psychology of Visual Art draws together new and established theories from psychology, art history and philosophy to consider fundamental questions about art’s unique appeal to our species. 

Professor Mather has also published numerous papers in leading academic journals, including Vision Research and Proceedings of the Royal Society.