Isabel Gauthier

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Isabel Gauthier is a cognitive neuroscientist currently holding the position of David K. Wilson Professor of Psychology and head of the Object Perception Lab[1] at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Psychology.[2]

She was born in Montreal, Québec, Canada, in 1971. She acquired her PhD at Yale University (1993-1998) under Michael Tarr. In 2000, with the support of the James S. McDonnell Foundation, she founded the Perceptual Expertise Network (PEN),[3] which now comprises over ten labs based across North America; in 2006 PEN became part of the NSF-funded Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC).[4]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Gauthier has received the Young Investigator Award, Cognitive Neuroscience Society (2002),[5] the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience (2003)[6] and the Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences “For seminal experiments on the role of visual expertise in the recognition of complex objects including faces and for exploration of brain areas activated by this recognition.” (2008).[7] She was elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (2010). In 2012, Gauthier was elected Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists. In 2015 she was named "SEC professor of the year".

Beginning in 2011, Gauthier serves as editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, where she introduced a brief report format and made report of effect sizes and consideration of power an editorial priority.


Gauthier has researched many topics involved in perception, with a focus on the role of perceptual expertise in category-specific effects in domains such as faces, letters or musical notation. She incorporates different techniques to study these topics, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), event-related potentials (ERP), and behavioral training studies using novel objects (e.g., Greebles, YUFOs, Ziggerins[8]).

One brain area frequently investigated by Gauthier and colleagues using fMRI is the fusiform face area (FFA). The FFA is believed to play an important role in face recognition, but Gauthier’s research has examined the role that FFA may play in the expert perception of non-face objects,[9] such as cars in car experts.


  • Isabel Gauthier (1998). Dissecting face recognition: The role of expertise and level of categorization in object recognition (Ph.D.). Yale University. 

The following 43 journal articles have been cited at least 43 times (current h-index = 52 as of January 2016, according to Google Scholar)

see Google Scholar page
  • Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M.J.; Anderson, A.W.; Skudlarski, P.; Gore, J. C. (1999). "Activation of the middle fusiform 'face area' increases with expertise recognizing novel objects". Nature Neuroscience. 2 (6): 568–573. doi:10.1038/9224. PMID 10448223. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Skudlarski, P.; Gore, J.C.; Anderson, A. W. (2000). "Expertise for cars and birds recruits brain areas involved in face recognition". Nature Neuroscience. 3 (2): 191–197. doi:10.1038/72140. PMID 10649576. 
  • Schultz, R.T.; Gauthier, I.; Klin, A.; Fulbright, R.K.; Anderson, A.W.; Volkmar, F.; Skudlarski, P.; Lacadie, C.; Cohen, D.J.; et al. (2000). "Abnormal ventral temporal cortical activity during face discrimination among individuals with autism and Asperger syndrome". Archives of General Psychiatry. 57: 331–340. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.57.4.331. 
  • Gauthier, I., Tarr, M. J.; Tarr (1997). "Becoming a "Greeble" expert: Exploring mechanisms for face recognition" (PDF). Vision Research. 37 (12): 1673–1682. doi:10.1016/s0042-6989(96)00286-6. PMID 9231232. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  • Tarr, M.J., Gauthier, I.; Gauthier (2000). "FFA: A flexible fusiform area for subordinate-level visual processing automatized by expertise" (PDF). Nature Neuroscience. 3 (8): 764–769. doi:10.1038/77666. PMID 10903568. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M. J.; Moylan, J.; Skudlarski, P.; Gore, J.C.; Anderson, A.W. (2000). "The fusiform "face area" is part of a network that processes faces at the individual level". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 12 (3): 495–504. doi:10.1162/089892900562165. PMID 10931774. 
  • Rossion, B.; Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M.J.; Despland, P.; Bruyer, R; Linotte, S.; Crommelinck, M. (2000). "The N170 occipito-temporal component is delayed and enhanced to inverted faces but not to inverted objects: an electrophysiological account of face-specific processes in the human brain". NeuroReport. 11 (1): 69–74. doi:10.1097/00001756-200001170-00014. PMID 10683832. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Williams, P.; Tarr, M. J.; Tanaka, J. (1998). "Training "Greeble" experts: A framework for studying expert object recognition processes". Vision Research. 38 (15–16): 2401–2428. doi:10.1016/s0042-6989(97)00442-2. PMID 9798007. 
  • Gauthier, I., Tarr., M.J.; Tarr (2002). "Unraveling mechanisms for expert object recognition: Bridging Brain Activity and Behavior" (PDF). Jep:hpp. 28 (2): 431–446. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.28.2.431. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 April 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Behrmann, M.; Tarr, M. J. (1999). "Can face recognition really be dissociated from object recognition?". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 11 (4): 349–370. doi:10.1162/089892999563472. PMID 10471845. 
  • Grelotti, D.; Gauthier, I.; Schultz, R. T. (2002). "Social interest and the development of cortical face specialization: what autism teaches us about face processing". Developmental Psychobiology. 40 (30): 13–25. 
  • Rossion, B.; Gauthier, I. (2002). "How does the brain process upright and inverted faces?". Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, Developmental Psychobiology. 1 (1): 63–75. doi:10.1177/1534582302001001004. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Curran, T.; Curby, K.M.; Collins, D. (2003). "Perceptual interference supports a non-modular account of face processing". Nature Neuroscience. 6 (4): 428–32. doi:10.1038/nn1029. PMID 12627167. 
  • Tarr; Williams, P.; Hayward, W. G.; Gauthier, I. (1998). "Three-dimensional object recognition is viewpoint dependent". Nature Neuroscience. 1 (4): 275–277. doi:10.1038/1089. PMID 10195159. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Nelson, C. (2001). "The development of face expertise". Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 11 (2): 219–224. doi:10.1016/s0959-4388(00)00200-2. PMID 11301243. 
  • Palmeri, T. J., Gauthier, I.; Gauthier (2004). "Visual Object Understanding" (PDF). Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 5 (4): 291–303. doi:10.1038/nrn1364. PMID 15034554. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Anderson, A.W.; Tarr, M. J.; Skudlarski, P.; Gore, J.C. (1997). "Levels of categorization in visual recognition studied with functional MRI". Current Biology. 7 (9): 645–651. doi:10.1016/s0960-9822(06)00291-0. PMID 9285718. 
  • Rossion, B.; Gauthier, I; Goffaux, V.; Tarr, M.J.; Crommelinck, M. (2002). "Expertise training with novel objects leads to left lateralized face-like electrophysiological responses". Psychological Science. 13 (3): 250–257. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00446. PMID 12009046. 
  • Bukach, C.M.; Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M.J. (2006). "Beyond faces and modularity: the power of an expertise framework". Trends in Cognitive Science. 10 (40): 159–66. 
  • Tanaka, J.; Gauthier, I. (1997). "Expertise in object and face recognition". Psychology of Learning and Motivation. Psychology of Learning and Motivation. 36: 83–125. doi:10.1016/s0079-7421(08)60282-0. ISBN 9780125433365. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Hayward, W. G.; Tarr, M.J; Anderson, Adam W.; Skudlarski, Pawel; Gore, John C. (2002). "BOLD activity during mental rotation and viewpoint-dependent object recognition". Neuron. 34 (1): 161–171. doi:10.1016/s0896-6273(02)00622-0. PMID 11931750. 
  • Gauthier, I., Logothetis (2000). Is face recognition not so unique after all? Cognitive Neuropsychology 17(1/2/3), 125-142.
  • Grelotti, D.J.; Klin, A. J.; Gauthier, I.; Skudlarski, P.; Cohen, D.J.; Gore, J.C.; Volkmar, F. R.; Schultz, R.T. (2005). "fMRI activation of the fusiform gyrus and amygdala to cartoon characters but not faces in a boy with autism". Neuropsychologia. 43 (3): 373–85. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2004.06.015. PMID 15707614. 
  • Goffaux, V.; Gauthier, I.; Rossion, B. (2003). "Spatial Scale contribution to early visual differences between face and object processing". Cognitive Brain Research. 16 (3): 416–24. doi:10.1016/s0926-6410(03)00056-9. PMID 12706221. 
  • Gauthier, I., Bukach, C. (2007). Should we reject the expertise hypothesis? Cognition, 322-330.
  • James, K. H.; James, T. W.; Jobard, G. Wong; Gauthier, I. (2005). "Letter processing in the visual system: different activation patterns for single letters and strings". Cognitive and Affective Behavioral Neuroscience. 5 (4): 452–66. doi:10.3758/cabn.5.4.452. 
  • Palmeri, T. J.; Wong, A. C.-N.; Gauthier, I (2004). "Computational approaches to the development of perceptual expertise". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 8 (8): 378–86. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2004.06.001. PMID 15335465. 
  • Gauthier, I., Tarr, M. J., Moylan, J., Anderson, A.W., Skudlarski, P. & Gore J.C. (2000). Does visual subordinate-level categorization engage the functionally defined fusiform face area? Cognitive Neuropsychology, 17(1/2/3), 143-163.
  • Gauthier, I. (2000). "What constrains the organization of ventral temporal cortex?". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 4 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1016/s1364-6613(99)01416-3. PMID 10637614. 
  • James, T.W.; Gauthier, I. (2006). "Repetition-induced changes in BOLD response reflect accumulation of neural activity". Human Brain Mapping. 27 (1): 37–46. doi:10.1002/hbm.20165. PMID 15954142. 
  • Rossion, B.; Curran, T.; Gauthier, I. (2002). "A defense of the subordinate level- expertise account for the N170 component. Commentary". Cognition. 85 (2): 189–196. doi:10.1016/s0010-0277(02)00101-4. PMID 12127699. 
  • Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M.J. (1997). "Orientation priming of novel shapes in the context of viewpoint-dependent recognition". Perception. 26 (1): 51–73. doi:10.1068/p260051. PMID 9196690. 
  • Tarr, M. J., and Gauthier, I. (1998). Do viewpoint-dependent mechanisms generalize across members of a class? Cognition. Special issue on "Image-based Recognition in Man, Monkey, and Machine", 67, 71-108.
  • James, K.H.; Gauthier, I. (2006). "Letter processing automatically recruits a multimodal brain network". Neuropsychologia. 44 (14): 2937–49. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.06.026. PMID 16920164. 
  • Richler, J.J.; Gauthier, I.; Wenger, M.J.; Palmeri, T.J. (2008). "Holistic processing of faces: perceptual and decisional components". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 34 (2): 328–42. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.34.2.328. 
  • Wong, C.-N.; Gauthier, I.; Woroch, B.; DeBuse, C.; Curran, T. (2005). "An early electrophysiological response associated with expertise in letter perception". Cognitive and Affective Behavioral Neuroscience. 5 (3): 306–318. doi:10.3758/cabn.5.3.306. 
  • Bukach, C. M.; Bub, D. N.; Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M. J. (2006). "Perceptual expertise effects are not all or none: local perceptual expertise for faces in a case of prosopagnosia". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 18 (1): 48–63. doi:10.1162/089892906775250094. PMID 16417682. 
  • James, T. W.; Gauthier, I. (2003). "Auditory and action semantic feature types activate sensory-specific perceptual brain regions". Current Biology. 13 (20): 1792–6. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2003.09.039. PMID 14561404. 
  • Richler, J.J.; Tanaka, J.W.; Brown, D.D.; Gauthier, I. (2008). "Why does selective attention fail in face processing?". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 34 (6): 1356–1368. doi:10.1037/a0013080. 
  • Curby, K.M.; Gauthier, I. (2007). "A visual short-term memory advantage for faces". Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 14 (4): 620–628. doi:10.3758/bf03196811. PMID 17972723. 
  • Cheung, O.S.; Richler, J.J.; Palmeri, T.J.; Gauthier, I. (2008). "Revisiting the Role of Spatial Frequencies in the Holistic Processing of Faces". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 34 (6): 1327–36. doi:10.1037/a0011752. 
  • Gauthier, I.; James, T.W.; Curby, K.M.; Tarr, M.J. (2003). "The influence of conceptual knowledge on visual discrimination". Cognitive Neuropsychology (3/4/5/6): 507–523. 


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
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  5. ^ [2] accessed June 30, 2011.
  6. ^ [3] October 2003, 34(9), accessed June 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Moran, Melanie "Gauthier wins National Academy of Sciences award"[4] January 1, 2008, accessed June 30, 2011.
  8. ^ Leonard, Futurity-Jenny [5],, June 18, 2009, accessed June 30, 2011.
  9. ^ Gauthier, I.; Tarr, M.J.; Anderson, A.W.; Skudlarski, P.; Gore, J. C. (1999). "Activation of the middle fusiform 'face area' increases with expertise recognizing novel objects". Nature Neuroscience. 2 (6): 568–573. doi:10.1038/9224. PMID 10448223. 

External links[edit]