Leon Lou

 Associate Professor

 B.A., Fudan University
 M.S., Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
 Ph.D., University of California, San Diego 
 office: 2313 Au Sable Hall
 phone: (616) 331-2916

Perception and Cognition
Courses Recently Taught
PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology
PSY 361 - Perception
PSY 492 - Advanced General Capstone
Research Interests

I have studied a variety of phenomena that shed light on mechanisms of visual perception. One earlier study has to do with visual sensory adaptation. It is known that a steady stimulus in peripheral vision will fade from awareness in a few seconds. This phenomenon, known as the Troxler effect, is commonly believed to result from overstimulation of lower level visual system neurons. I demonstrated, however, that when a complex stimulus is viewed in the peripheral visual field, those elements that are selectively attended fade faster than others that are ignored (Lou, 1999). What this finding suggests is that the signals feeding the sensory adaptation mechanism can come from both the eyes and the higher level visual system neurons involved in selective attention. My other significant studies on visual perception include those concerning how attention influences phenomenal filling-in of the physiological blind spot (Lou & Chen, 2003), how the apparent size of an afterimage changes with oculomotor cues (convergence and accommodation) (Lou, 2007), and how the Troxler effect also has to do with both inerocular suppression and inhibitory summation across the two eyes and their brain pathways (Lou, 2008).

More recently I have started to pursue a new and very different line of research that intersects visual perception and political psychology, the immediate goal of which being to understand whether political attitudes and orientations can be perceived from human faces. I have conducted a series of empirical studies to address some basic issues in this research area, such as the potential biases in such perception due to the political leanings of the perceivers, and the need to separate the effects of facial emotional expressions from those of physiognomies.

Representative Publications
(Some of these papers can be downloaded for personal use. If you would like permission to use a reprint for a book or course pack, please contact the publisher)
Lou, L. (2008). Troxler effect with dichoptic stimulus presentations: Evidence for binocular inhibitory summation and interocular suppression. Vision Research, 48(14), 1514-1521.
Lou, L. (2007). Apparent afterimage size, Emmert's law and oculomotor adjustments, Perception, 36, 1214-1228.

Lou, L., & Chen, J. (2003) Attention and blind-spot phenomenology, Psyche: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Consciousness, 9(2),
Lou, L. (2001). Effects of voluntary attention on structured afterimages. Perception, 30(12), 1439-1448. pdf
Lou, L. (1999). Selective peripheral fading: Evidence for inhibitory sensory effect of attention. Perception, 28(4), 519-526. pdf


Page last modified May 21, 2014