Professor Nicholas Wade

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Biography

My research covers three main topics:

(1) The representation of space and motion in human vision. This has the aim of developing a model of space and motion perception in terms of nested frames of reference defined by the articulations of the body. The model has been expanded to incorporate orientation perception.

(2) The history of research in visual science, with the aim of providing an account the development of experimental methods in vision, particularly those concerned with stereoscopic vision.

(3) The relationship between visual science and visual art. This has the aim of fostering a closer association between the graphical language of art (particularly geometrical abstraction) and the interpretative language of science.

I am involved in active international collaboration with Prof. S. Finger, Washington University, St. Louis; Dr. B. Lingelbach, University of Aalen; Prof. H. Ono, York University, Canada; and Prof. Marco Piccolino, University of Ferrara.

Research

Research Grouping - Language, Cognition and Perception

Perception provides the pivotal focus for my research, with particular emphasis on vision.

This is expressed in experimental studies of motion perception, and the theories that address it. A model which combines perception and action has been developed with Prof. M. Swanston (Abertay University Dundee). It has been applied to the practical problems of endoscopic surgery, and collaboration with surgeons at Ninewells Hospital is in progress. Perception is one of the oldest areas of enquiry, and my interests in its history have grown of late, as is evident from the publications listed below.

My initial interests were concerned with the history of binocular vision, but they have extended to vision generally and to other senses, too. The senses work together to provide a coherent representation of the external world, and the studies of one sense have often stimulated investigations into others. As an example, I have been examining the interplay between experiments on binocular vision and the impact they have had on those of binaural hearing.

For many years, the vestibular system was thought to be concerned with hearing, and as a sense it has provided a particular enigma; it is only relatively recently that it has been considered a separate sense or indeed a group of senses.

In historical terms, the practitioners of vision - artists - made many advances in the science of seeing. With the growth of science the two approaches to vision have tended to become divorced. In attempting to foster a closer kinship between visual science and visual art I have tried to use the graphical language of the artist to address issues that can be analysed by the scientist. This has resulted in collaborations with artists like Patrick Hughes and Calum Colvin.