Ken Nakayama

Adjunct Professor

Psychology, Vision Science


How do we see? What is it about the ever changing structure of light impinging on our mobile eyes that enables us to pick up information about the environment around us? What is it about our brain and its neural activity allows us to see so much and so effortlessly? How is it that we can control our eyes and bodies to seek out information and to act in the physical world? These are just some of the large questions that drive researchers, including myself, to study vision. We find it a fascinating topic because it seems both so accessible and yet so elusive. Vision is immediate and obvious, so much so that it seems not to require any explanation. Yet, if we think of how an imaginary robot might simulate a human or how neural circuits might mediate conscious visual perception, we come to realize how deep the gulf is between what we know about the brain and the everyday facts about visual perception.


I received a B.A. from Haverford College and a Ph.D. from UCLA. From 1971 to 1990 I was at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. Since 1990 I have been in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University