Serena Thompson

Ph.D. 2009

Thesis Title:

Temporal and spatial properties of the BOLD fMRI response to first and second order contrast in V1

Current Position:

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin

Past Positions:

Fellowship: Epilespsy, Department of Neurology, Cleveland Clinic

Residency, Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

University of Southern California, BS, Biomedical-Electrical Engineering

Major Advisor(s):

Research Description:

Low-level and object-salient features influence perception, but questions remain about how these features interact. We study the effects of contrast, luminance, and orientation of visual features on target detectability, and are pursuing experiments that investigate these features' relation to figure-ground assignment.

We are also interested in how people learn to identify ambiguous objects using both behavioral and functional imaging techniques.

Lab Rotations:

  • Babak Ziaie
  • Walter Low
  • Peter Steinmetz
  • Daniel Kersten
  • Kelvin Lim

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • Mathematical Modeling of Human Behavior
  • Several Vision Seminars and fMRI Seminars/Courses
  • Signal Detection Theory
  • Computational Neuroscience

Graduate Level Minor:

  • Medicine

Conferences Attended:

  • Society for Neuroscience, 2006
  • Vision Sciences Society, 2006, 2007

Committee Members:

  • Sheng He (chair)
  • Daniel Kersten
  • Cheryl Olman
  • Geoff Ghose

Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  • Thompson SK, Engel SA, Olman CA. Larger neural responses produce BOLD signals that begin earlier in time. Front Neurosci. 2014 Jun 12;8:159.
  • Hegdé J, Thompson SK, Brady M, Kersten D. Object recognition in clutter: cortical responses depend on the type of learning. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 Jun 19;6:170.
  • Schumacher JF, Thompson SK, Olman CA. Contrast response functions for single gabor patches: ROI-based analysis over-represents low-contrast patches for GE BOLD. Front Syst Neurosci. 2011 Mar 24;5:19.


  • Hegdé J, Thompson S, Kersten D. Psychophysical and fMRI studies of the role of prior knowledge in visual perception
  • Hegdé J, Thompson S, Kersten D. Object recognition in cluttered visual scenes: Is it better to learn objects in the presence or the absence of clutter?

Awards and Honors:

  • Center for Cognitive Sciences trainee, 2004-5, 2005-6, 2006-7

Home Town:

  • Kamuela, HI/Grand Forks, ND
Serena Thompson