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Nancy Kanwisher is a Professor in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. She studies the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying human visual perception and cognition. Her work investigates object recognition, visual attention, and perceptual awareness, as well as response selection, social cognition and the human understanding of numbers. Her lab has identified several regions of the brain that play specialized roles in the perception of specific categories of visual stimuli such as faces, places, and bodies, most notably the fusiform face area.
Kanwisher joined the MIT faculty in 1997, and prior to that was a faculty member at UCLA from 1990 to 1994 and at Harvard University from 1994 to 1997. She received her Ph.D. in 1986 from MIT. In 1999, she received the National Academy of Sciences' Troland Research Award, and in 2005 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Kanwisher is one of the primary supporters in the field of Cognitive Neuroscience of a strong localization thesis, that highly specific and high level cognitive processes are localized across subjects to specific areas of the brain. She was first to report and defend the existence of a specific cortical region devoted to face processing, a region that she called the FFA (Fusiform Face Area). In normal human subjects, this region of inferior temporal cortex is more active than other brain regions during times when the subject is viewing, recognizing, categorizing or performing any visual processing related to faces, and neurological patients with lesions in this area have been shown to be unable to recognize faces.
- Kanwisher Lab
- Announcement of election to national academy of sciences
- Announcement of Troland research award
- Kanwisher, Nancy (2003), "The ventral visual object pathway in humans: Evidence from fMRI", in Chalupa, LM; Werner, JS, The Visual Neurosciences
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