Visual Cognition Laboratory

Research in the Visual Cognition Laboratory

Welcome to the Visual Cognition Laboratory. Our interests center on visualization and spatial understanding as they relate to learning and expert knowledge. Currently we are working in two areas: computer-based learning of neuroanatomy and methods for visualizing complex network data. This latter project is in collaboration with the Bioinformatics group at UofL and the project is headed by Julia Chariker.

Our primary focus in neuroanatomy is to develop and test new methods for presenting and interacting with 3D computer graphical models of the human brain so as to improve instruction in this discipline. We have constructed our own computer model of the brain along with several interactive computer programs that enable learning neuroanatomy. We have completed a variety of tests of learning with these systems and have had a great deal of success in designing learning environments that lead to efficient learning with good long term retention and generalization. Several manuscripts have been published in Journal of Educational Psychology, Anatomical Sciences Education, Cognition and Instruction, and Advances in Health Sciences Education: Theory and Practice. Some screen images from this work can be seen under "NIH Funded Research" in the panel at the left.

Other recent projects have included experimental study of spatial reasoning (mostly concerning spatial transformations), and characterizing visual skill in the practice of microscopy in histology (the microanatomy of biological tissues). Our interest in the study of histology has centered on characterizing the knowledge that students develop in completing the college course in histology.

The methods that we use to explore cognition range from naturalistic studies of experienced practitioners (e.g., of microscopy) through tightly controlled experiments to the development of new computer graphical models and computer-based learning technologies. Most recently we have become active in the testing and development of computer-based learning using 3D graphical models, both in neuroanatomy and in histology.

The major source of funding for our work has been the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. We are proud to be associated with this organization. We also are grateful for funding from the National Science Foundation / Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Louisville.

Lab PI: J. R. Pani (Home Page)