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 peripheral vision and scene perception, particularly as they apply to driving. 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 other objects and actors will not stop and wait for us to finish processing the scene before us. 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. What information do we acquire before the saccade to make them useful, and how to we maintain a stable perception of the world when our eyes are moving from point to point? 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

Can we apply our understanding of visual perception and our methods for studying it to real-world problems? Fundamental research tells us how something works, but applied research tells us what happens outside the lab. Much of my applied work has asked questions about what drivers, particularly in automated vehicles, can and can't perceive. I have also worked on at how age-related changes in the visual system can be assessed and simulated for text legibility, and how legibility changes with 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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