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Research Fellows Directory

Jennifer Read

Dr Jennifer Read

Research Fellow

Organisation

Newcastle University

Research summary

My research investigates stereo vision: the perception of depth we have due to seeing the world with two eyes. This is the ability exploited to produce the vivid 3D effects in blockbusters such as “Avatar”. While we understand the basic geometry behind this, we don’t understand exactly how our brains turn it into perception. In my lab, I conduct detailed measurements of exactly what people perceive in different 3D stimuli. I use these results, together with what’s known about the structure and function of the brain, to develop computer programs which mimic how the brain combines visual information from the two eyes. These programs make predictions about how humans should perceive different visual scenes, which I can then test in the lab.

The potential impacts of this research are threefold. First, it will help us understand how the brain works. 3D vision is a relatively simple ability, so we stand a good chance of progress. In addition, the brain has a similar structure all over, so scientists believe that it may use the same basic mathematical operations in many different tasks. Thus, understanding 3D vision may spill over into better models of other human abilities.

Second, knowing more about how 3D vision works will help us understand how it can go wrong. Binocular vision problems are very common; in developed countries, they’re the most common cause of visual impairment in children. In my lab, I work with NHS clinicians and children who have binocular vision disorders, to try and use our knowledge of brain mechanisms to understand these disorders better.

Third, learning more about stereo vision may help industry produce better products. For example, current 3D movies make some viewers feel sick and dizzy. Understanding more about how humans process 3D images may help us avoid these problems in future.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

A quantitative account of neuronal mechanisms supporting stereo depth perception

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Sep 2005 - Mar 2013

Value: £9,960,198.87