About me

I'm a postdoc at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in Ruth Rosenholtz's lab. I'm also affiliated with MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. I study visual perception, and I'm particularly interested in how we acquire visual information. Much of my postdoctoral research has bridged basic and applied research, using driving as a tool to better understand vision. I received my Ph.D. in Psychology in 2015 from UC Berkeley, and was advised by David Whitney.

In January 2021, I'll be starting as an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. Are you interested in applied or translational questions in vision science and thinking about graduate school? Please get in touch - I'm recruiting graduate students to start in Fall, 2021.

Download CV (pdf)
Google Scholar profile

Ben Wolfe Photo


Peripheral vision

Peripheral vision is most of your visual input, but it's easy to think that what matters in vision is just where you're looking or attending. How do you use your visual periphery? It can tell you about groups, like the students in your class, and it's probably critical to safe driving, particularly because you can still use it when you're distracted and looking away from the road.
Intersection with shop

Scene perception

How quickly can you understand a natural scene (like the road ahead of you)? When you're moving through the world and it's moving around you, you need to understand what's going on very quickly, because otherwise you might not notice the moose walking into the road until it's too late. So, how quickly can we understand dynamic natural scenes? What can you extract from a brief glimpse of a moving scene that tells you what might happen next?

Eye movements

Peripheral vision can tell us a great deal about the world, but it's limited and we volitionally move our eyes around the scene to acquire different information than what peripheral vision can give us. How do we use this information to plan eye movements and acquire new information and how do we perceive the world as stable across the changes in view that happen every time we shift our gaze?
Eye closeup
Eye closeup

Applied research

My research program in the last few years is use-inspired basic research: looking at problems in the world, like driving and legibility, and using them to better understand vision. Much of this has been in the context of driving, which is inherently visual, but where theories and experiments can both shed light on existing questions in vision science and real-world problems in road safety, such as distraction. I've also studied age-related changes in vision, how they impact legibility, how different fonts on road signs help or hinder older drivers and how drivers' ability to detect and respond to hazards changes as they age.


Glanceable, legible typography over complex backgrounds
Sawyer, B.D., Wolfe, B., Dobres, J., Chahine, N., Reimer, B.
Ergonomics (2020)  • pdf
Rapid Holistic Perception and Evasion of Road Hazards
Wolfe, B., Seppelt, B.D., Mehler, B., Reimer, B., Rosenholtz, R.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2019)  • pdf
Road Hazard Stimuli (described in the JEP:General paper) • Available on OSF
Detection of Brake Lights While Distracted: Separating Peripheral Vision from Cognitive Load
Wolfe, B., Sawyer, B.D., Kosovicheva, A., Reimer, B., Rosenholtz, R.
Attention, Perception and Psychophysics (2019)  • pdf
Predicting road scenes from brief views of driving video.
Wolfe, B., Fridman, L., Kosovicheva, A., Seppelt, B., Mehler, B., Reimer, B., Rosenholtz, R.
Journal of Vision (2019)  • pdf
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
Note: The pdf reprints are protected by copyright laws, and are available only for personal, research use. Any other use is prohibited.


"Reacting to road hazards."
MIT News (August 7, 2019).

Referencing Holistic detection and evasion of road hazards
(Wolfe, Seppelt, Mehler, Reimer and Rosenholtz, 2019).