I am a PhD student working under the supervision of Professor Julie Harris working on vision and camouflage. There has been considerable research into the abilities of the human visual system to extract the 3D shape and position of an object using cues such as edge detection and binocular disparity. However, the vast majority of studies are limited to very abstract systems and situations, with the aim of isolating and testing specific computational limits of the visual system.
At the other end of the scale, there are numerous experiments testing the abilities of animals to isolate camouflaged baits (for example, counter shaded ‘caterpillars’) in a real-world environment. Remarkably, very little cross-over work has been conducted between these two extremes, and research into the effects of camouflage on depth perception in the human visual system is sparse.
The aim of this PhD is to help fill this gap in our knowledge using modern technology to create standardised realistic targets placed in realistic scenes. Specifically, this technique will be used to study if humans can use their powerful depth perception capabilities to break certain forms of camouflage possessed by animals.
The PhD will then go on to study a variety of different camouflage patterns present in the wild to test if certain camouflage patterns not only disrupt monocular search patterns, but also interfere with our ability to perceive the 3D shape of the animal, thus making detection of these animals even harder. Performance of the human subjects will then be compared to the results of computer models that have been developed to mimic depth perception in humans, in order to test and improve our current understanding of the human visual system.