Mintao Zhao

Mintao Zhao

Guest Scientist
Department Human Perception, Cognition & Action
Group Recognition & Categorization

Main Focus

Cognitive and Neural Processes Underlying Face Recognition and Spatial Navigation

One primary function of human perception, cognition, and action is to effecitvely interact with the environment.  My research aims to understand two fundamental aspects of these human-environment interactions: (a) how do we perceive, recognize, and interact with faces (i.e., interacting with our soical environment), and (b) how do we perceive, represent, and navigate in spaces (i.e., interacting with our physical environment).

The ulitmate goal of my research is to understand the cognitive and neural mechasnisms underlying the dynamic human-environment interactions (i.e., face recognition and spatial navigaiton), and more importantly, to imporve the way we interact with the dynamic physical and social environments (i.e., improve face- and space-related cognitive and social ability).

Other-Race Effect (ORE) in Face Memory

  • Why do people have difficulty recognizing other-race faces?
  • How to reduce such difficulty in eyewitness memory?

Holistic Processing of Faces and Non-Face Objects

  • What type of information underlies holistic processing?
  • Is holistic processing related to face recognition ability?

Naturalistic Face Recognition: Dynamic Faces

  • How does facial motion affect holistic processing and ORE?
  • What makes some natural faces more memorable than others?

Cue Interaction in Human Navigation

  • How do people use visual and non-visual cues for navigation?
  • What determines our sense of direction during navigation?

Neural Mechanisms Supporting Recognition and Navigation

  • How does the brain represents faces and spaces?
  • What brain networks support recognition and navigation?

Curriculum Vitae

Mintao has moved to the University of East Anglia as a Lecturer in the School of Psychology.  He is currently a Guest Research Scientist in the Department of Human Perception, Cognition, and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.  He completed his Ph.D. study at the Insititute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  He then moved to the University of Hong Kong and Brown University for his postdoc training on face processing and spatial navigation.

His research focuses on human face recognition and spatial navigation, aiming to unravel how people perceive and represent faces and spaces, and how people use these representations to recognize faces and to navigate between places.  He uses multiple research approaches to address these questions, including psychophysics, virtual environment, eye-movement tracking, and functional MRI.
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