Thomas Busey

Thomas Busey

Departmental Liason to Cognitive Science, Psychological And Brain Sciences

Professor, Psychological And Brain Sciences


  • Ph.D., University of Washington, 1994
  • National Institute of Mental Health Predoctoral Fellowship, 1992-94

Research interests

My research consists of three topic areas that are highly inter-related. In collaboration with Geoff Loftus, I have addressed the temporal aspects of information processing tasks such as character identification and binocular information acquisition. This work has produced 6 peer-reviewed articles in major journals. More recently I have expanded my research focus to look at how the information that is acquired by these early perceptual mechanisms is processed in memory tasks. Several research projects have addressed the nature of the representation of perceptual information, and the use of this information in recognition and metacognitive tasks. This research line has produced 4 articles and book chapters, with several other articles under review.

Mathematical Modeling of Visual Information Processing

The processing of a perceptual stimulus is not instantaneous. The sensory response tends to be extended in time, and the nature of this temporal delay affects how the stimulus is processed. This research line uses quantitative models to address the interactions between lower-level sensory processes and higher-level perceptual and information processing mechanisms. We measure the temporal properties of the sensory response, which are signatures of the underlying neural pathways that subserve the processing of a particular task. In this research line I have addressed the processes that underlie character recognition, binocular summation, localization and identification, and temporal inhibition.

Articles based on this research appear in The Psychological Review, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Perception & Psychophysics, and Vision Research. A seventh article is accepted pending revision at The Journal of Mathematica Psychology .

Visual Mechanisms Associated with Face Perception

Information that is acquired by the early sensory and perceptual mechanisms studied in the previous research area must be stored and later matched with other stimuli to enable recognition. Vision researchers attempting to understand how the visual system encodes visual information have typically used relatively simple stimuli such as sine-wave gratings or gaussian patches. These findings may not reveal how those initial representations are combined by higher-order visual processing mechanism that are responsible for more complex stimuli such as faces. My research investigates the visual mechanisms that are involved in complex pattern perception. We have been most interested in how faces are represented in memory, and what features are included in this representation. In conjunction with my graduate student Anne Arici, we have developed quantitative models that account for different aspects of face recognition data.

Articles describing this research are published in Psychological Science and Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory & Cognition.

Confidence and Accuracy in Eyewitness Testimony

Jurors often believe, and are often explicitly told by judges, that confident eyewitnesses are more accurate than unconfident eyewitnesses. However, a very small to nil correlation between an eyewitness\' confidence and accuracy is often reported in the literature. Motivated by this applied area, I am conducting a series of experiments looking at the basic calibration issues underlying memory performance and a subject\'s ability to monitor and report their confidence in the accuracy of their memory reports.

We find that confidence is not just important for eyewitness identification; other aspects of confidence can affect the recognition response. As a result, this topic area is intrinsically tied to the previous area.

An article describing the first experiments in this research line has been resubmitted to Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, and Anne Arici\'s first year project also addresses this topic.


My facilities include 5 computer based laboratories: a multiple-subject stereoscopic presentation system; an ultra-fast refresh oscillo scope driven by a pc; and additional single subject and multiple-subject laboratories for presenting visual stimuli.

Representative publications

Accounts of Blending, Distinctiveness, and Typicality in the False Recognition of Faces (1999)
Thomas A. Busey and Jennifer L. Tunnicliff
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, 25 (5), 1210-1235

Accounts of the Confidence-Accuracy Relation in Recognition Memory (2000)
Thomas A. Busey, Jennifer Tunnicliff, Geoffrey R. Loftus and Elizabeth F. Loftus
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 7 (1), 26-48

Adaptation Modulates the Electrophysiological Substrates of Perceived Facial Distortion: Support for Opponent Coding (2010)
Jordan DeLong, Leslie M. Blaha, Bethany Schneider Jurs, Alex Burkhardt, Dean Wyatte and Thomas A. Busey
Neuropsychologia, 48 (13), 3743-3756

Added Noise Affects the Neural Correlates of Upright and Inverted Faces Differently (2007)
Bethany L. Schneider, Jordan E. DeLong and Thomas A. Busey
Journal of Vision, 7 (4), 1-24

Age-Related Changes in Visual Temporal Order Judgment Performance: Relation to Sensory and Cognitive Capacities (2010)
Thomas A. Busey, James C. Craig, Christopher Clark and Larry E. Humes
Vision Research, 50 (17), 1628-1640

Aging and Tactile Temporal Order (2010)
James C. Craig, Roger P. Rhodes, Thomas A. Busey, Diane Kewley-Port and Larry E. Humes
Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72 (1), 226-235

Behavioral and Electrophysiological Evidence for Configural Processing in Fingerprint Experts (2005)
Thomas A. Busey and John R. Vanderkolk
Vision Research, 45 (4), 431-448

Binocular Information Acquisition and Visual Memory (1998)
Thomas A. Busey and Geoffrey R. Loftus
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 24 (4), 1188-1214

Broadly Tuned, View-Specific Coding of Face Shape: Opposing Figural Aftereffects can be Induced in Different Views (2007)
Linda Jeffery, Gillian Rhodes and Thomas A. Busey
Vision Research, 47 (24), 3070-3077

Cognitive Science and the Law (2007)
Thomas A. Busey and Geoffrey R. Loftus
Trends in Cognitive Science, 11 (3), 111-117

Compensation is Unnecessary for the Perception of Faces in Slanted Pictures (1990)
Thomas A. Busey, Nuala P. Brady and James E. Cutting
Perception & Psychophysics, 48 (1), 1-11

Consistency and Variability Among Latent Print Examiners as Revealed by Eye Tracking Methodologies (2011)
Thomas A. Busey, Chen Yu, Dean Wyatte, John R. Vanderkolk, Francisco J. Parada and Ruj Akavipat
Journal of Forensic Identification, 61 (1), 60-91

EEG Synchronization Deficits in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders (2002)
Brian F. O'Donnell, Colleen A. Brenner, Thomas A. Busey, Jun-Soo Kwon and Marcia A. B. Wilt
International Congress Series, 1232 697-703

Facial Memory is Kernel Density Estimation (almost) (1998)
Garrison W. Cottrell, Matthew N. Dailey and Thomas A. Busey
Procedings of Neural Information Processing (NIPS) 1998 Conference, 24-30

Formal Models of Familiarity and Memorability in Face Recognition (1999)
Thomas A. Busey
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 147-191

Dissertation Committee Service

Author Dissertation Title Committee
Anderson, Joseph Walking to Reach: Binocular Disparity Matching and The Tau Hypothesis (January 2009) Bingham, G. (Co-Chair), Busey, T., Yu, C. (Co-Chair), Candy, R.
Blaha, Leslie A Dynamic Hebbian-style Model of Configural Learning (December 2010) Townsend, J. (Co-Chair), Busey, T. (Co-Chair), Gold, J,. Trosset, M.
Cleary, M. Perception of Talker Differences in Normal-Hearning Children and Hearing-Impaired Children with Cochlear Implants (February 2003) Pisoni, D. B. (Co-Chair), Kirk, K. I., Kewley-Port, D. (Co-Chair), Busey, T. A.
Diller, D. E. The Effects of Attentional Focus on Visual Information Processing (October 1999) Shiffrin, R. (Co-Chair), Kruschke, J. (Co-Chair), Busey, T. A., Leake, D. B.
Drake, P. D. The Origins of Number: A Computational Account (July 2002) Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Mix, K., Hanson, A. (Co-Chair), Busey, T.
Huber, D. E. Perception And Preference in Short-Term Word Priming (January 2000) Shiffrin, R. M. (Co-Chair), Townsend, J. T. (Co-Chair), Carraghty, P. E., Busey, T.
Kadihasanoglu, Didem An Evolutionary Robotics Approach to Visually-Guided Braking: Data and Theory (October 2012) Beer, R. (Chair), Bingham, G., Busey, T., Yu, C.
Lee, Young Lim Metric Shape Can Be Perceived Accurately And Used Both For Object Recognition and Visually Guided Action (September 2009) Bingham, G. (Co-Chair), Busey, T., James, T. (Co-Chair), Hanson, A (Co-Chair).
Nelson, Angela Examining the Co-Evolution of Knowledge and Event Memory (August 2009) Shiffrin, R. (Co-Chair), Goldstone, R. (Co-Chair), Busey, T., James, K.
Shoup, R. E. Cross-Dimensional Interference in a Focused Attention Task (October 1996) Shiffrin, R. (Co-Chair), Kruschke, J. (Co-Chair), Busey, T., Bradley, A., Cohen, A.
Wild, Heather Applying Signal Detection Theory to Evoked Response Potentials For Understanding Mechanisms of Bias and Sensitivity in Face Detection Tasks (September 2006) Busey, T. (Co-Chair), Candy, R., Gold, J., Townsend, J. (Co-Chair)
Wilson, Andrew A Perception –Action Approach To Rhythmic Movement Coordination (August 2005) Bingham, G. (Co-Chair), Busey, T. (Co-Chair), Pisoni, D., Port, R.