Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
We're launching a new website soon and would love your feedback. See the new design
(023) 8059 3629

Professor Wendy Adams BSc, PhD

Professor of Experimental Psychology, Deputy Head of Psychology (Director of Research),REF Champion

Professor Wendy Adams

Wendy Adams joined the University of Southampton’s Department of Psychology in 2004.  She is a Professor of Experimental Psychology, and her research involves human visual perception and multisensory perception.

She received her BSc in Psychology from the University of Sheffield and stayed at Sheffield to complete a PhD in binocular vision with John Frisby.  She was a postdoctoral research fellow with Marty Banks at UC Berkeley and then with Pascal Mamassian at the University of Glasgow.

Wendy is on the editorial board of Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. She has served on the abstract review committees for the VSS and Eurohaptics conferences, and on the grant assessment panel for the UK’s EPSRC. She has received grants from NIH, EPSRC, ESRC, Wellcome Trust and the British Academy.

Research interests

Research in my lab addresses a broad range of questions within human visual and multisensory perception. My research uses human psychophysics and computational modelling to understand how we perceive the world around us. Some current research themes are highlighted below:

Research projects

Multisensory perception: We study how humans combine information from vision and touch to estimate object properties such as shape. For example, when we touch a surface, haptic information is combined with visual signals so that we can estimate surface curvature, glossiness and roughness.

Natural scene statistics: Visual perception relies on knowledge about the structure of environment – to fully understand human vision, and to improve computer vision algorithms, we must understand the environment that we operate within.  We have created the Southampton-York Natural Scenes dataset ( ), which characterises 100 natural scenes from 25 diverse indoor and outdoor scene categories such as cafés, offices, woodland, industrial sites and beaches.  We are currently using the database to study a range of topics including 3D perception, scene classification and camouflage.

Material perception: We are interested in learning how humans combine visual and touch cues to understand material properties. We study how our perception of materials is affected by changes in illumination.

Faces, emotion and threat: Faces can convey important information, such as the presence of threat. We ask: are fearful faces special? Do they attract attention and reach awareness more quickly than other stimuli?  Do threatening stimuli evoke physiological responses before we are aware of them? 

Our own experimental studies and meta-analyses suggest that threat-sensitive mechanisms do not operate outside of awareness. However, some threat-relevant stimuli are particularly salient due to their low-level properties (e.g. luminance contrast) and this explains their dominance in binocular rivalry and masking paradigms.

We collaborate with clinical researchers to explore emotional face processing in populations with anxiety, and in adolescents with conduct disorder.

Motion, attention, perception and adaptation: Moving stimuli can capture attention, drive segmentation and produce robust after-effects. We explore interactions between motion and attention using various experimental paradigms, and have conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis and review of attention and motion adaptation.

Research group

Centre for Perception and Cognition (CPC)

Research project(s)

Emotional face processing without awareness

Exploring whether emotional face stimuli are processed in more efficient ways than other visual stimuli

Resolving visual ambiguity

A study of the choices made by the visual system

Shape and depth perception

Visual cues and assumptions

Visual adaptation and re-calibration

Trustworthy Autonomous Systems

Sort via:TypeorYear



I enjoy working with undergraduate and postgraduate students at all levels. I currently teach on the following undergraduate courses:

  • Thinking Psychologically (Year 1)
  • Perception (Year 2)
  • Understanding your world with vision, touch, sound and taste (Year 3)

I supervise final year research projects on a range of topics, and also work with Masters level and PhD students.

Professor Wendy Adams
Building 44 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 44/4121

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings