Bruce C Hansen - Colgate University - Faculty Directory

Colgate Directory

Bruce Hansen

Bruce C. Hansen

Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Psychology, 107B Olin Hall
p 315-228-7349
As we navigate through our daily lives, we are flooded with an abundance of visual information that our brains must effectively encode and successfully integrate in such a way that allows us to engage the visual environment with minimal error. Such processes are typically taken for granted since they are, for the most part, conducted outside of our conscious awareness.

Visual perception cannot be explained by a simple translation of the retinal image (i.e., the image of the world projected on the back of the eye). It involves a highly complex system composed of multiple analysis processes, whereby each process is devoted to integrating information from "earlier" and "later" processes. There currently exists a large body of research dedicated to better understanding these processes with highly controlled, un-naturalistic stimuli. While a great deal has been learned from such studies, there has recently been a concerted effort to study the processing stages involved in visual perception with naturalistic, real-world scene images as stimuli.

Research conducted in my lab is focused on how real-world (natural scene) visual information is encoded in the ventral processing stream of the human visual system and subsequently perceived by the human observer. Accordingly, the experiments conducted in my lab, as well as in collaboration with labs at other universities, cover a broad range of perceptual abilities ranging from simple size, orientation, or contrast judgments with natural scene images to more complex tasks involving motion-defined form and face discrimination/recognition.

Students in my lab (either as thesis students or undergraduate research assistants) will be exposed to a multitude of behavioral (i.e., psychophysical) techniques for studying human visual perception & cognition, all of which will be geared toward each student's level of education. Upon entering the lab, students will be immediately involved in ongoing projects (see "Interests" & "Selected Publications" sections below) and encouraged to eventually conceptualize, design and execute new projects in line with their own interests. Students interested in joining my lab should e-mail me at the address listed below.

Please visit the lab website for more details: Visual Perception Lab


BS (2000), University of Michigan-Flint; MA (2003), PhD (2004), University of Louisville

Download complete curriculum vitae [PDF]

Professional Experience

  • Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience 2013-present
  • Assistant Professor of Psychology, Colgate University 2007-2013
  • Postdoctoral research fellow, McGill Vision Research, McGill University, 2005-2007


Human perception of real-world visual stimuli (natural scene perception); shape/object perception; human face recognition/discrimination; human eye movements and gaze; visual attention; biological motion perception; relationship between natural image statistics and visual development; cortical implications of amblyopia; visual texture segregation and contour integration; neural biases involved in the aesthetics of visual art.


Selected publications (reprint requests should be directed to:**denotes Colgate student author):
  • Hansen, B.C., May, K.A., & Hess, R.F. (2014). One “shape” fits all: The orientation bandwidth of contour integration. Journal of Vision, 14(13), 1-21. [Journal link]
  • Kirkpatrick, K., Bilton, T., Hansen, B.C., & Loschky, L.C. (2014). Scene gist categorization by pigeons. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 40, 162-177. [Journal link]
  • Pannasch, S., Helmert, J.R.,  Hansen, B.C., Larson, A.M., & Loschky, L.C. Commonalities and differences in eye-movement behavior when exploring aerial and terrestrial scenes. In M. Buchroithner et al. (Eds.) Cartography from Pole to Pole, Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography, Springer-Verlag, Berlin (2014). [Book Link]
  • Ramkumar P., Hansen B.C., *Lee A.*, *Lanphier S.*, Pannasch S., Loschky L.C. (2014). A high-resolution neural portrait of natural scene processing. SUNw: Scene Understanding Workshop, Columbus, OH. [Workshop Link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Loschky, L.C. (2013).  The contribution of amplitude and phase spectra defined scene statistics to the masking of rapid scene categorization.  Journal of Vision, 13, 1-21. [Journal link]
  • Ellemberg, D., Hansen, B.C., & Johnson, A.P. (2012). The developing visual system is not optimally sensitive to the spatial statistics of natural scenes. Vision Research, 67, 1-7. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Hess, R.F. (2012). On the effectiveness of noise masks: Naturalistic vs. un-naturalistic image statistics. Vision Research, 60, 101-113. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C., Johnson, A.P., & Ellemberg, D. (2012). Different spatial frequency bands selectively signal for natural image statistics in the early visual system. Journal of Neurophysiology, 108, 2160-2162.  [Journal link
  • Kelly, S.D., Hansen, B.C., & *Clark, D.T.* (2012). "Slight" of hand: The processing of visually degraded gestures and speech. PLoS ONE, 7, e42620. [Journal link]
  • Ramkumar, P., Pannasch, S., Hansen, B.C., Larson, A.M., & Loschky, L.C. (2012). How does the brain represent visual scenes? A neuromagnetic scene categorization study. Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2011): Workshop on Machine Learning and Interpretation in Neuroimaging. [Proceedings]
  • Spiegel, D.P., Hansen, B.C., Byblow, W.D., Thompson, B. (2012). Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation reduces psychophysically measured surround suppression in the human visual cortex. PLoS ONE, 7, e36220. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C., *Jacques, T.*, Johnson, A.P., & Ellemberg, D. (2011). From spatial frequency contrast to edge preponderance: The differential modulation of early VEPs by natural scene stimuli. Visual Neuroscience, 28, 221-237. [Journal link]
  • Johnson, A.P., Richard, B., Hansen, B.C., & Ellemberg, D. (2011). Center-surround facilitation in the discrimination of amplitude spectra is dependent on the center amplitude spectra content, and not the surround. Journal of Vision, 11, 1-10. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C., Thompson, B., Hess, R.F., & Ellemberg, D. (2010). Extracting the internal representation of faces from human brain activity: An analogue to reverse correlation. NeuroImage, 51, 373-390. [Journal link]
  • Hess, R.F., Li, X., Lu, G., Thompson, B., & Hansen, B.C. (2010). The contrast dependence of the cortical fMRI deficit in amblyopia; a selective loss at higher contrasts. Human Brain Mapping. [Journal link]
  • Loschky, L.C., Hansen, B.C., Sethi, A., & Pydimarri, T.N. (2010) The role of higher-order image statistics in masking scene gist recognition. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72, 427-444. [Journal link]
  • Mansouri, B., Hansen, B.C., & Hess, R.F. (2009). Disrupted retinotopic maps in amblyopia. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 50, 3218-3225. [Journal link]
  • Hess, R.F., Li, X., Mansouri, B., Thompson, B., & Hansen, B.C. (2009). Selectivity as well as sensitivity loss characterizes the cortical spatial frequency deficit in amblyopia. Human Brain Mapping, 30, 4054-4069. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C., Haun, A.M., & Essock, E.A. The "horizontal effect": A perceptual anisotropy in visual processing of naturalistic broadband stimuli. In Visual Cortex: New Research, Nova Science Publishers, New York (2008). [Book link]
  • Hansen, B.C., Farivar, R., Thompson, B., & Hess, R.F. (2008). A critical band of phase alignment for discrimination but not recognition of human faces. Vision Research, 48, 2523-2536. [Journal link]
  • Thompson, B., Farivar, R., Hansen, B.C., & Hess, R.F. (2008). A dichoptic projection system for visual psychophysics in fMRI scanners. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 168, 71-75.[Journal link]
  • Thompson, B., Troje, N.F., Hansen, B.C., & Hess, R.F. (2008). Amblyopic perception of biological motion, Journal of Vision, 6, 1-14. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Hess, R.F. (2007). Structural sparseness and spatial phase alignment in natural scenes. Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 24, 1873-1885. [Journal link]
  • Essock, E.A., Hansen, B.C., & Haun, A.M. (2007). Illusory bands in orientation and spatial frequency: A cortical analogue to mach bands. Perception, 36, 639-649. [Journal link]
  • Thompson, B., Hansen, B.C., Hess, R.F., & Troje, N.F. (2007). Peripheral vision; good for biological motion, bad for signal noise segregation? Journal of Vision, 7, 1-7. [Journal link]
  • Zheng, Y., Essock, E.A., Hansen, B.C., & Haun, A.M. (2007). A new metric based on extended spatial frequency and its application to DWT based fusion algorithms. Information Fusion, 8, 177-192. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Essock, E.A. (2006). Anisotropic local contrast normalization: The role of stimulus orientation and spatial frequency bandwidths in the oblique and horizontal effect perceptual anisotropies. Vision Research, 46, 4398-4415. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Hess, R.F. (2006). Discrimination of amplitude spectrum slope in the fovea and parafovea and the local amplitude distributions of natural scene imagery. Journal of Vision, 6, 696-711. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Hess, R.F. (2006). The role of spatial phase in texture segmentation and contour integration. Journal of Vision, 6, 594-615. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Essock, E.A. (2005). Influence of scale and orientation on the visual perception of natural scenes. Visual Cognition, 12, 1199-1234. 
  • Hansen, B.C. & Essock, E.A. The relationship between human perceptual performance and the physical attributes of night vision imagery. In D.T. Rosen, R.S. Kozak, G.K. Carlson, M.R. Tyler, and S.V. Joist (Eds.) Trends in Experimental Psychology Research, Nova Science Publishers, New York (2005). [Book link]
  • Zheng, Y., Essock, E.A., & Hansen, B.C. (2005). An advanced DWT fusion algorithm and its optimization by using the metric of image quality index, Optical Engineering, 44, 037003 (1-12). [Journal link]
  • Essock, E.A., Sinai, M.J., DeFord, J.K., Hansen, B.C., & Srinivasan, N. (2004). Human perceptual performance with non-literal imagery: Region recognition and texture-based segmentation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 10, 97-110. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C. & Essock, E.A. (2004). A horizontal bias in human visual processing of orientation and its correspondence to the structural components of natural scenes. Journal of Vision, 4, 1044-1060. [Journal link]
  • Essock, E.A., DeFord, J.K., Hansen, B.C., & Sinai, M.J. (2003). Oblique stimuli are seen best (not worst!) in naturalistic broad-band stimuli: A horizontal effect. Vision Research, 43, 1329-1335. [Journal link]
  • Hansen, B.C., Essock, E.A., Zheng, Y., & DeFord, J.K. (2003). Perceptual anisotropies in visual processing and their relation to natural image statistics. Network: Computation in Neural Systems, 14, 501-526. 


Human sensation and perception; advanced visual perception; biological psychology; behavioral/cognitive neuroscience; human cognition; psychological research design and statistical analysis.


  • National Science Foundation: Major Research Instrumentation Grant, 2013-2016
  • Guy Stevenson Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, University of Louisville
  • Grawemeyer Fellow, University of Louisville
  • Graduate Research Fellow, NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium, Bowling Green, KY
  • Alfred C. Raphelson Prize, Recognition of Outstanding Research Award, University of Michigan-Flint