Susana Chung, Professor

Closed (1) Mechanism underlying visual processing in people with visual impairment

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

This research project focuses on the understanding of how the visual system works in people with normal vision, as well as in people with uncorrectable sub-normal vision (visual impairment). Uncorrectable sub-normal vision can occur as a result of an eye disease (e.g. macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the US for people over the age of 65) or even in the absence of an eye disease (amblyopia, or "lazy eye"). Using non-invasive psychophysical methods and state-of-the-art retinal and functional brain imaging as the tools, our goals are (1) to investigate the various limiting factors on visual performance in individuals who are visually impaired as a consequence of an eye disease or amblyopia and (2) to devise methods to improve the visual capabilities of such individuals.


The undergraduate research apprentices are expected to assist in setting up the psychophysical experiments (involving computers), subject testing, data entry and analyses. We expect the undergraduate research apprentices would develop skills and experience in interacting with human subjects and in conducting psychophysical experiments. For those who are highly motivated, exceptional in interacting with human subjects and are willing to undergo specific training in the lab, there will be ample opportunities to interact with patients with visual impairment.

Qualifications: We are seeking individuals who enjoy interacting with people, have patience, careful and detail-oriented. This position is ideal for undergraduate students who are considering a career in health-related disciplines.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://vision.berkeley.edu/selab/

Closed (2) Plasticity of the visual system following vision loss

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

This research project focuses on the understanding of how the visual system responds to the onset of vision loss as a result of eye diseases. By understanding how the visual system responds to vision loss, our ultimate goal is to develop effective rehabilitative strategies to help people with vision loss see and function better.

In this project, we will use custom-written software interfaced with a scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO) to present visual stimuli at specific locations on the retina. The SLO allows us to image and record the retinal fundus at 60 Hz, and to compensate for large eye movements. When combined with psychophysical methods, we are able to measure behavioral performance at specific retinal locations. Data analyses involve the application of various image processing techniques to analyze the digital video files of the retinal pictures.

The undergraduate research apprentices are expected to assist in setting up the experiments (involving programming), subject testing and data analyses. We expect the undergraduate research apprentices would develop skills and experience in conducting psychophysical experiments and retinal imaging, analyzing eye movement data, and in computational image analyses.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Dr. Girish Kumar

Qualifications: Proficiency in computer programming, especially Matlab and/or C++, and knowledge in image processing is highly desirable. We are seeking individuals who enjoy interacting with people, have patience, careful and detail-oriented. This position is ideal for undergraduate students majoring in disciplines such as computer science or bioengineering who are interested in applying their technical skills to medical research.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://vision.berkeley.edu/selab/

Closed (3) Face and Object Recognition: Normal and Low Vision

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2017.

The research project focuses on the understanding of how the visual system recognizes faces and other objects in normally sighted people and people with low vision. Psychophysical methods, retinal imaging and functional brain imaging will be used to answer the research question.


The undergraduate research apprentices are expected to assist in setting up the experiment, pilot testing (normal vision or corrected-to-normal vision is needed for this part), subject scheduling and testing, data entry and analyses. We expect the undergraduate research apprentices would develop skills and experience in interacting with human subjects, conducting psychophysical experiments, and analyzing data.

Qualifications: We are looking for individuals who are careful, patient, responsible, and enjoy interacting with people. This is an ideal position for students who are considering working in vision science and other health-related fields.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://vision.berkeley.edu/selab/

Closed (4) Feature detection and enhancement in peripheral vision

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

Loss of vision in the central visual field brings about dramatic changes to everyday activities (e.g. reading, identifying objects). This research project focuses on identifying how the informative features of objects contribute to overall visual function, with the clinical goal of visual performance improvement by enhancing selected parts of objects. We will use non-invasive psychophysical techniques to study object recognition and test different enhancement and display possibilities with normally sighted subjects or patients.

One phenomenon of particular interest is that of 'crowding', a condition whereby features of flanking items disrupt the recognition of a target item, especially in peripheral vision. We study this percept using letters and letter-like stimuli in an effort to better understand the mechanisms of letter perception. This has practical relevance for reading, as well as theoretical research motivation for uncovering basic principles of object recognition.

The undergraduate research apprentices will assist in setting up the experiments (potentially involving programming), performing subject testing, and some data analysis. The undergraduate research apprentices will be exposed to all aspects of the research process.

Qualifications: Proficiency in computer programming, especially Python, Matlab and/or C++, and knowledge in image processing is highly desirable. We are seeking individuals who enjoy interacting with people, have patience, careful and detail-oriented. This position is ideal for undergraduate students majoring in disciplines such as neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science or bioengineering who are interested in applying their technical skills to medical research.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://vision.berkeley.edu/selab/