About me

I'm a postdoc in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I study visual perception, working with Ruth Rosenholtz, and my work focuses on how we acquire visual information from the world, particularly the roles of peripheral vision, scene perception and eye movements. I received my Ph.D. in 2015 from UC Berkeley, and was advised by David Whitney.

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Ben Wolfe Photo


Peripheral vision

Peripheral vision is the vast majority of vision, but most research focuses on central vision, around where you're looking. What can we perceive from peripheral input, and how does this help us understand what we can and can't do in the world? I have shown that peripheral vision provides detailed information about groups, and is an underconsidered but critical element in safe driving.
Intersection with shop

Scene perception

Understanding our environment is essential if we are to move through it safely. We are often in motion, and the world will not wait for us to finish processing. How quickly can we perceive our environment, and what are the limitations of our perception? I have found that we can quickly perceive and predict future events in driving environments, and can extract task-relevant cues embedded in natural scenes.

Eye movements

To bring objects in the world to the fovea, the area of highest resolution on the retina, we make 2-4 directed eye movements (saccades) per second. How do we plan these eye movements? Why do we make the ones we do, and what information do each of these changed views of the world provide? I have shown that saccades improve identification of crowded targets and that object representations are remapped prior to the saccade.
Eye closeup
Eye closeup

Applied research

Understanding how we acquire visual information is particularly essential when we take it out of the lab and start considering behavior in the world. My research bridges applied and basic research, looking to the world for interesting questions and using them to learn about vision more broadly. In recent years, this work has focused on driving and how visual perception impacts what drivers can and cannot do. I have also examined age-related changes in the visual system and how they can be assessed and simulated for text legibility, and, in a driving-related area, the impact of using different typefaces on road signs.


The effects of visual crowding, text size, and positional uncertainty on text legibility at a glance.
Dobres, J., Wolfe, B. A., Chahine, N., Reimer, B.
Applied Ergonomics (2018)  • pdf
Unifying visual space across the right and left hemifields.
Chen, Z.*, Kosovicheva, A.*, Wolfe, B. A., Cavanagh, P., Gorea, A., & Whitney, D.
Psychological Science (2018)  • pdf
More Than the Useful Field: Considering Peripheral Vision in Driving.
Wolfe, B.A., Dobres, J., Rosenholtz, R., & Reimer, B..
Applied Ergonomics (2017) • pdf
Perceiving The Roadway In The Blink Of An Eye – Rapid Perception Of The Road Environment And Prediction Of Events.
Wolfe, B., Fridman, L., Kosovicheva, A., Seppelt, B., Mehler, B., Reimer, B.
Driving Assessment (2017) • pdf
Signs of the Times: An Empirical Assessment of the Legibility of Highway Gothic and Clearview Signage Fonts.
Dobres, J., Chrysler, S. T., Wolfe, B., Chahine, N., & Reimer, B.
Transportation Research Board (2017) • pdf
Age-related differences in the legibility of degraded text.
Wolfe, B., Dobres, J., Kosovicheva, A., Rosenholtz, R., & Reimer, B.
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications (2016) • pdf
Foveal input is not required for ensemble perception of emotional faces.
Wolfe, B. A., Kosovicheva, A. A., Yamanashi Leib, A., Wood, K. & Whitney, D.
Journal of Vision (2015) • pdf
Saccadic remapping of object-selective information.
Wolfe, B. A., Whitney, D.
Attention, Perception and Psychophysics (2015) • pdf
Facilitating recognition of crowded faces with presaccadic attention.
Wolfe, B. A., Whitney, D.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2014) • pdf
Visual motion shifts saccade targets.
Kosovicheva, A. A., Wolfe, B. A., & Whitney, D.
Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics (2014) • pdf
Coping With Spatial Attention in Real Space: A Low-Cost Portable Testing System for the Investigation of Visuo-Spatial Processing in the Human Brain.
Wolfe, B.A., Rushmore, R.J., Valero-Cabre, A..
Journal of Neuroscience Methods (2010)  • pdf
Multiscale pattern analysis of orientation-selective activity in the primary visual cortex.
Swisher, J.D., Gatenby, J.C., Gore, J.C., Wolfe, B.A., Moon, C.H., Kim, S.G. Tong., F..
Journal of Neuroscience (2010)  • pdf
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