Suggested Deadline to post projects: January 26, 2016
Applications will be accepted from:
Both MD & non-MD Undergraduates
MD undergraduate students only
non-MD undergraduate students only
Project Duration:
Suitable for either a 4 or 8 week project (Only MD 2017 students are eligible to apply for 4-week projects)
Only suitable for an 8-week project
Only suitable for a 4-week project
Additional notes to potential applicants:
Project Title:
"Are you the grandfather?"–Perception of age in faces of other races.
Hypothesis or Research Question being addressed:
Difficulties in judging age in other-race faces have been phenomologically observed. For example, Caucasian
faces are judged by East Asian observers as older than they actually are. The converse is true for Caucasian
observers. We will examine whether this deficit represents a "bias" or "reduced precision" in age
Keywords: Provide approximately 5 key words that describe the proposed research project.
Human vision, visual psychophysics, face processing, other-race effect, age perception
Please review the online adjudication criteria carefully prior to completing the next two sections to ensure your
application is addressing the adjudication criteria outlined in “Project Attributes and Benefits to the Student”.
A) Background and Summary of Proposed Research. In the space available, summarize the proposed
project including the rationale for the project, the context within the relevant field of research, the
proposed research approach and the expected project outcomes: (please write in lay terms for a nonspecialist audience)
If this is an ongoing project of >8 weeks duration (or 4 weeks for MD 2017 students) clearly distinguish the expected
project outcomes at the end of the FoM SSRP funding period from the overall project objectives.
450 Word Limit
Man walks up to the cashier with his newborn baby. The cashier adores the baby and then turns to
him and asks: “Are you the grand father?” He is 42, and in fact, the father. Interactions such as these
are common in Vancouver with its multiethnic population. It seems that there is a mutual confusion
when it comes to judging age between Caucasians and East Asians. Caucasians often assume East
Asian individuals they meet to be much younger than they actually are. Similarly, individuals who
were raised in an East Asian community often overestimate age in Caucasians.
The other-race effect (ORE) is one of the most studied phenomena in face perception research. It
refers to the difficulty in discriminating different identities in faces of a non-native etnicity. This "They
all look alike to me" phenomenon represents a true perceptual inability to differentiate and remember
distinct identities in faces of the "other" race. Faces signal several pieces of critical information about
a person in addition to identity, such as age, gender, and emotional state, among others. Are these
other dimensions of face perception also impaired with other-race faces? In this study, we examine
age perception in other-race faces.
In two experiments, we will examine the nature of other-race age perception. Experiment 1 will
assess estimation of age in visual face images that vary between 20 and 90 years of age. Two
groups of observers, Caucasian and East Asian, will estimate age in two sets of facial stimuli,
Caucasian and East Asian. The results of the experiment will clarify the nature of the bias in age
judgements. Does the origin of "they all look so young" stem from true biases in age peception in the
other race? If so, are these biases constant across ages, or only evident at certain critical age
ranges? We will claify these and similar questions relating to perceptual biases of age. In Experiment
2 we will examine precision of age perception in own- and other-race faces. This refers to the ability
to discriminate age differences between two faces, independent of the perceived age. For example, it
is possible to remain sensitive to the age difference between 50 and 55 years, even though these
were misjudged to be 30 and 35 (reflecting bias).
The results of this study will produce objective scientific evidence for difficulties in perceiving age
across races. These results will clarify the nature of the other-race effect in relation to the perception
of age. They will also inform biological and computational models of face processing the human
brain. In the long term, this study will add to our understanding of the neuroscience of high-level
visual processing and has the potential to help move forward rehabilitation efforts for brain disorders
that impact recogition of faces and objects.
B) Outline the student’s role in the project and describe how they will benefit from their involvement.
This section must address how involvement in this project will help the student gain an understanding of how
high quality research is conducted. This includes addressing the opportunities to learn new skills in the context
of the relevant learning objectives listed in the online adjudication criteria; their anticipated interactions with
other researchers and the available resources that will contribute to a beneficial experience.
Clearly indicate which items will be completed during the FoM SSRP funding period and which (if applicable) will be
completed before or after the funding period if the student and supervisor have chosen to also work together outside of the
funding period. Project feasibility is considered during the adjudication process; 4-week and 8-week projects will be
adjudicated separately, with appropriate consideration given to each.
550 Word Limit
This project will be completed from start to finish within the 8-week funding period. The student will
be involved in all aspects of the research project, including stimulus generation, subject recruitment,
data collection, data analysis, and statistical analysis. For these they will need to learn to utilize 1) an
experimental software such as Superlab, 2) programming in Matlab to analyze the data, and 3) a
statistical software package such as NCSS or R to carry out statistical analysis of the results. The
student will also be involved in writing up a report with the aim to publish in a peer-reviewed journal.
This will involve learning to do literature searches using resources such as PubMed. Furthermore,
the student will have the opportunity to present the results of this study in an international
conference, such as the annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (2017).
This project will take place in the Neuroscience of Vision and Action (NOVA) Lab at the Blusson
Spinal Cord Centre located on the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) grounds. The NOVA lab is a
state-of-the-art research facility featuring 10+ student workstations that are currently housing three
graduate students (UBC Neuroscience) and one postdoctoral fellow; and three large testing rooms
equipped with experimental hardware and computing resources. We are part of the Visual Cognitive
Neuroscience Group at UBC comprised of four laboratories studying various aspects of human vision
and cognition. The student will have opportunity to interact with all members (20+) of the Visual
Cognitive Neuroscience Group, which includes graduate students, postdoctoral fellows,
undergraduate research assistants as well as the four principal investigators. The student will attend
the monthly research seminar (VisCog) held by the group. The student will give an oral presentation
summarizing their results at the VisCog seminar at the end of their SSRP term.
It is possible and plausible to complete this project and publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal.
Two previous summer students are first authors on their respective papers that grew out of their
summer projects: Yang, Shafai & Oruc, JOV 2014, and Shahangian & Oruc, Perception 2014.
Please indicate if your project requires the following and indicate their status as appropriate. This will
help clarify the scope of the project for potential student partners.
This project requires ethics approval (human or animal):
If yes please indicate if you:
Already have approval
Will obtain approval before the SSRP funding period
Intend for ethics application to be a focus over the funding period
*Please note that as ethics approval can be a lengthy process it is recommended that this be obtained well in advance of the funding period unless the
intention is for this activity to form a major part of the FoM SSRP-funded portion of the project.
This project requires access to electronic medical records:
If yes please indicate if you:
Already have approval
Will obtain approval before the SSRP funding period
Plan to obtain approval during the SSRP funding period
Research Location (As applicable, indicate where the project will be conducted.)
City or Region: Vancouver
Research Centre: ICORD
Hospital: VGH
Program or Unit: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Additional information (building, lab etc.):
Supervisor’s Information
Supervisor Last Name:
Supervisor First Name:
FoM Department/School (Main FoM Appointment):
Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
UBC FoM Division (if applicable):
Basic Science; Visual Cognition
Preferred contact method (for students)
Phone supervisor
Email supervisor
Preferred Phone:
604-675-8866 (office)
Phone alternate contact
Email alternate contact
Secondary Phone:
E-mail Address:
[email protected]
Optional Alternate Contact (e.g. co-supervisor, research/lab coordinator, assistant etc.)
Contact’s Name:
Contact’s Role:
Contact’s Phone Number:
Contact’s E-mail Address: