Associated Research Thrust:
Ken Nakayama is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at the Department of Psychology, Harvard University. Prof. Nakayama received his bachelors degree in Psychology from Haverford College and his Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology from UCLA. He did post-doctoral training at the University of CA at Berkeley. Later he spent two years teaching Neurophysiology at Memorial University in St. Johns, Newfoundland. From 1971 to 1990 he was at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco.
He is interested in a wide variety of topics in human vision and has recently been exploring two topics. First is a set of projects concerning individual differences in visual perception and memory, especially related to face memory and recognition. He has identified otherwise normal persons who are severely deficient in recognizing faces (called developmental prosopagnosia). There are a significant number of such individuals, millions perhaps in the US alone, whose deficit leads to significant problems in daily life. Such individuals cluster in families. Comparing these individuals to normal subjects, his goal is to understand the cognitive architecture of face processing, as well as its neurological and genetic substrates. In a second independent effort, he is examining higher order aspects of visuo-motor control, a relatively unexplored topic that has the potential to throw light on otherwise hidden aspects of perception and cognition.