James Tanaka – RSC Fellow

I’m a professor in the Psychology Department and principal investigator of the Different Minds Lab in University of Victoria, British Columbia. I received my PhD from University of Oregon and was a post-doc fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.

My research examines the cognitive and neurological processes underlying object and face recognition. I am interested in how experience influences the way we perceive and recognize objects in the world. To address this question, we study the visual processes involved in perceptual expertise, such as expert birdwatching or car recognition. and have designed and tested training protocols to teach a novice how to become an expert. We are also interested in a kind of perceptual expertise in which we are all experts – face recognition. How does our ability to recognize faces unfold over the course of development and how does experience with one racial group influence our ability to recognize people from other races? In a related line of research, we have been working with children with autism in a program designed to improve their face recognition abilities.

Outside the lab, I’m learning the Okinawan instrument the sanshin and volunteer at the Umi Nami Japanese organic farm in Metchosin, British Columbia.

See Google Scholar Profile for full publication list.

(250) 721-7541
Cornett A189



Anna Lawrance – Lab Coordinator

Hi, my name is Anna, and I am the Different Minds Lab coordinator! I joined the DML as a research assistant part-way through my second year, in the Summer of 2022, and am currently working towards my BSc in Psychology here at UVic. My main interests in psychology often relate to implicit memory, knowledge acquisition, and changes in cognitive abilities over time/development, particularly in the later years of life. Currently, I am conducting two PsiZ projects investigating the development of perceptual and conceptual expertise in STEM-related domains, specifically Geology and Entomology. These studies explore the influence of expertise on one’s perceived categorical structure of domain-relevant items. In my spare time, you can find me listening to music or ethics podcasts, trying to play the guitar, or taking photos of things that catch my eye in nature. Contact:


Eric Mah, MSc

Eric is a current PhD student in the Cognition and Brain Sciences program at UVic, supervised by Dr. D. Stephen Lindsay. His primary research focuses on memory, both basic (free and cued recall) and applied (eyewitness memory, lineups, co-witness conformity). In collaboration with the DML, Eric is currently researching individual differences in psychological embeddings – in particular, the ways in which we can measure and represent psychological similarity spaces at the individual level, and how the structure and organizing principles of these spaces are affected by knowledge, expertise and other individual-level factors.


Meg Lall, BSc Honours

I hold an Honours BSc in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto. Currently, I am pursuing a Master’s degree at McMaster University, specializing in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviors. My research at McMaster focuses on clinical forensic psychology and the construct of moral injury within that population. My research interests include Forensic Psychology, Neuroscience, the Other Race Effect, and Neurocognition. Within the DML, I am actively engaging in a variety of projects. My current focus involves the study of fair lineups, where we seek to enhance the accuracy and fairness of identification procedures. Additionally, I am taking part in a planned cross-race study that explores the impact of race on perception and cognition. Outside of academic pursuits, I enjoy spending time in nature by going for hikes.


Kiera Ludlow

My name is Kiera Ludlow and I am currently in my BSc in Psychology at UVic. I joined the DML as a research assistant in my second year in the Spring of 2023. I began in the lab by working on zoom participant study coordination, and sourcing stimuli for PsiZ experiments. Presently, I am completing an independent study learning the JSPsych programming platform in order to concurrently model the data into a PsiZ package. My main psychological research interests relate to the development of cognitive and aging processes throughout an individual’s lifespan. An interest of mine is working and volunteering with organizations like Little Steps Therapy Services and Best Buddies. In my free time I will usually be going for a hike, cooking a new recipe, or taking care of my plants!


Johannes Schultz-Coulon

I joined the Different Minds Lab in Fall 2023 as an exchange student from The Netherlands. Now, I am entering my final semester of my psychology bachelor’s at Maastricht University. During the second year of my studies, I successfully completed the Honours and Honours+ programmes. My particular interest within psychology lies in Cognitive Neuroscience, which is why I plan to pursue a master’s in this captivating field. Currently, in the DML, I’m working on a Warblers PsiZ project, exploring how disparities in category learning rates during training might shape post-acquisition performance. Outside of my studies, you can find me enjoying music, outdoor activities, or exercising.



Dynah Parlee

I’m Dynah, an undergrad student at the University of Victoria currently working on my combined BSc in Psychology and Computer Science. I’m doing an independent study involving PsiZ and how we can widen the variety of studies the Lab can use it for. I’m interested in Cognitive Psychology and in my free time I enjoy taking photos and am the president of the UVic Photo Excursion Club.







Katelyn Forner, BSc Honours

Katelyn Forner graduated from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology. Katelyn started in the DML as a research assistant in the second year of her undergraduate degree in 2019, and quickly began working on her own project that examined whole person perception. Her honours thesis was an extension of this work and involved three different experiments that aimed to determine how both the face and body components influence perception of the other when presented in whole-person contexts. As of September 2023, Katelyn will be at McGill University pursuing her MA in Kinesiology & Physical Education, specializing in Sport & Exercise Psychology.


Amy vanWell, MSc

Amy has been an active member of the DML since starting as an undergraduate RA in 2018. Since she joined, she has graduated with a BSc in combined CSC/Psyc in 2021, and more recently with a MSc in 2023 with her thesis “The Viability of Web-based Eye Tracking”. During her time with the DML, she focused on expanding and developing tools used to conduct experimental psychology, notably through the development of the Gazer program for web-based eye tracking.



Alison Campbell, PhD

Alison Campbell received her PhD from the University of Victoria, where her dissertation focused on electrophysiological and psychophysical techniques to examine implicit face categorization and identity recognition. Much of this research involved tracking the emergence of identity recognition after real-world interaction and personal familiarization. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Boston Attention and Learning Lab at the Boston VA Medical Center and Boston University. Her current work focuses on understanding both the perceptual and memory mechanisms that underlie the impressive human capacity to learn faces by examining the patterns of abnormalities in developmental prosopagnosiacs – a special population of individuals with pervasive face recognition deficits.


Xiaoyi Liu, BSc Honours

A broad topic that interests me is the relationship between brain functional architecture and perceptual outcomes and how this relationship is shaped by experience. The face network of our brain, for example, has allowed us to perceive human faces very differently from other non-face objects (i.e., holistic face perception) and is being consistently shaped by developmental and cultural experiences (e.g., the other-race effect of face perception). I am currently doing my honours project in the lab with a focus on measuring the threshold of holistic face perception and the lateralization of holistic face perception using primarily psychophysical methods.

Juan Vassallo, MA

Juan Vassallo completed his Masters at the University of Victoria in the Interdisciplinary Studies department (music and psychology). His research interests included the assessment of musical capacities such as pitch perception, rhythmic entrainment and timbre discrimination, and how these abilities change over time due to musical training to better understand the link between brain and behaviour in musical perceptual expertise. In May 2020, Juan was accepted for a PhD position at the University of Bergen’s Grieg Academy for musical composition. //


Simen Hagen, PhD

I started in Jim’s lab as a research assistant during the end of my undergraduate degree at UVic. I subsequently completed an honour degree under his supervision, before joining as a graduate student. The focus of my graduate work was on how “expertise” in real-world object categorization influences the organization of cognitive and neural processes. For example, what cognitive and neural aspects can explain how a bird watcher can instantly name a bird as a “song sparrow” despite its similarity to other sparrows? I have subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the lab of B. Rossion at CHRU, Nancy (France), where I studied the brain circuitry involved in generating visual perceptions of human faces. Currently, I work as a post-doctoral researcher in the lab of M. Peelen at Donder’s Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior (Nijmegen, Netherlands), where I study the neural organization of visual sensory areas.


Buyun Xu, PhD

I did my PhD (2010-2013) and postdoc (2013-2018) in the Different Minds Lab. My research focused on using behavior, eye tracking and EEG methods to study the behavior and underlying brain mechanisms of how people recognize visual things, such as faces, facial expressions, melanoma, birds, etc. I also participated in the design, development and dissemination of training tools that teach people to recognize faces and facial expressions, make good facial expressions, detect melanoma, identify birds, etc., with the help of the state-of-the-art science and technology in machine learning. I am currently working as a senior researcher in the public safety sector of the government of BC. I am responsible for program evaluation and data extraction and analysis. I am still working with the Different Minds Lab on a project that looks for early signs of aging related cognitive decline from visual category training data.

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