Professor Anna Ma-Wyatt

Professor Anna Ma-Wyatt
 Position Professor
 Org Unit School of Psychology
 Telephone +61 8 8313 5660
 Location Floor/Room 5 08 ,  Hughes ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    I studied perception and behavioural neuroscience because I wanted to understand the mechanisms underlying human behaviour. Over time, I realised that I was most interested in vision. During my PhD, I studied apparent motion and also was involved in other projects in motion and spatial vision, as well as working on a dyslexia project. As a postdoc, I became interested in how vision is used actively to interact with the world. I work mainly on problems related to active vision, but I continue to do a little bit of work in motion psychophysics as well. 

    After joining the University of Adelaide as a lecturer in 2007, I established the Active Vision Lab. Please have a look under research interests to see what we’re working on now. I also teach undergraduate courses in Perception, programming for behavioural scientists and a graduate course in Human Factors

  • Qualifications

    Bachelor of Arts (Hons) - The University of Sydney

    PhD - Macquarie University

  • Awards & Achievements

    Vice-chancellor's commendation for a doctoral thesis of exceptional merit, awarded 2001 by Macquarie University

    Rachel C. Atkinson Fellowship, held at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, USA (2003-2006)

  • Research Interests

    In the Active Vision Lab, we study how visual information is used as people make eye and hand movements to interact with the world. Our work is built around three themes:


    Understanding how visual information is used to plan and execute interactive movements

    We study how visual information can constrain eye and hand movements. Why is this an important problem? Almost every movement humans make with their hands is goal directed. Most of these movements rely on visual information to determine the goal location, and that hand movement is typically accompanied by an eye movement (saccade). In my postdoctoral years, I demonstrated that vision can play an active role in constraining the movements we make, and that the movements we make also impact our perception (e.g. Ross & Ma-Wyatt, 2004; Ma-Wyatt & McKee, 2006) .

    We are currently investigating how differences in cortical and subcortical processing times can impact motor control (e.g. Kane, Wade & Ma-Wyatt, 2011). We are also interested in how attention shifts when making a rapid hand movement (e.g. Stewart & Ma-Wyatt, 2012), and how attention can be divided when reaching and performing another concurrent task (e.g. Long & Ma-Wyatt, 2012). 

    In another line of research, we have studied how people keep track of the frequency of events over time and how this affects motor performance (e.g. Ma-Wyatt & McKee, 2007; Ma-Wyatt & Navarro, 2010; Gokyadin, Ma-Wyatt, Navarro & Perfors, 2012). 


    Reaching with visual field loss

    When people make goal directed movements to interact with their environment (e.g. pick up a cup), the eye typically moves around the same time as the hand. This eye-hand coordination is consistent across many classes of movements, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Because this coordination allows a synchronisation of input and output in sensory and motor systems, it provides a neat model of behaviour for understanding sensorimotor interactions. The work we have conducted on normally sighted observers has suggested that visual information is used to plan and update the reach over time, and on each trial. 

    We have established a collaboration to study reaching in patients with peripheral visual field loss due to glaucoma, with Dr Allison McKendrick’s group (Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Melbourne). 

    With Dr Laura Walker (Renninger) and Dr Don Fletcher  (Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, USA), I study how central visual field loss due to macular degeneration affects eye-hand coordination and reaching performance (e.g. Ma-Wyatt & Renninger, 2011; Renninger & Ma-Wyatt, 2012). We were recently awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (USA) to continue this work. 


    Applied problems in using vision actively

    While the focus of my work is on basic research in both normal and clinical populations, I also work on some applied problems. I have been studying the performance of experts and novices when making different kinds of visual categorisation tasks, like face matching and diagnosing skin lesions. In both cases, we are examining the decisions made by experts and novices, and the scanpaths made by both groups. This work has been supported by grants from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Fred Bauer Research Fund. 

  • Research Funding

      Renninger, L, Ma-Wyatt, A and Fletcher, D (2013-2016): Reaching with central field loss National Eye Institute RO1 grant, National Institutes of Health 

      Ma-Wyatt, A & Semmler, C (2010) Improving human operator capability for face biometric identification and recognition. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Research Support for National Security 

      Ma-Wyatt, A A Avolio, A Lim and S Schumack (2009). The effect of image characteristics on diagnostic outcome in teledermatology. F. & E. Bauer Research Award, Australasian College of Dermatologists 

      M Ridding, J Pitcher, N Burns, R Casson, V Clifton, G Dekker, J Dodd, J Kennedy, M Makrides, M Nordstrom, A Ma-Wyatt, T Nettlebeck, P Rolan, J Semmler, M Stark, G Wittert. (2010) A fully integrated EEG, EMG, evoked potentials and transcranial magnetic stimulation neuronavigation system for comprehensive neurodevelopmental follow-up, neuroplasticity and neurocognitive studies in humans. NH & MRC Equipment grant 

      Brewer, N, Young, R., Weber, N., Ma-Wyatt, A., Semmler, C., McKinnon, R. (2007) A multi-function eye-tracking facility ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Grant 


  • Publications

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Entry last updated: Friday, 19 Mar 2021

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