Expert Details

Jim Tanaka

Contact Information

Jim Tanaka
Phone Number:(250) 721-7541
Languages: English

Research Information

Research Description

- The cognitive and neurological processes underlying object and face recognition
- The perceptual processes involved in expert object recognition
- Applying the principles of perceptual expertise to teach children with autism how to recognize faces
- Developing new technologies to help kids recognize faces

Expertise Profile

What's the first thing you notice upon entering a room?

For most of us, it's people or, more specifically, people's faces. Individuals with autism, however, are just as likely to first notice a chair, book or painting.

Dr. Jim Tanaka, a cognitive neuroscientist, has developed a computer program called "Let's Face it!" that may improve the face processing abilities of children with autism by jumpstarting the area of the brain that recognizes faces.

The most recent addition to the program is Scrapbook, an iPad app that can take pictures of a child's friends, family and teachers and then give the child use of those faces to play different games.

Dr. Tanaka explains how with practice, children with autism have shown great improvement in their ability to recognize faces. He hopes in the long run that these new technologies will also improve their social skills and ability to pick up on emotional cues.

Dr. Tanaka helms the Visual Cognition Lab at the University of Victoria and is director of the Centre for Autism Research, Technology and Education on campus.

He recruits undergraduate and graduate students from psychology, computer science, education and counselling to help with his research. They are given the unique opportunity to work in schools and in the lab with the children, where they can see first-hand the outcomes of their work.

Related Links

Dr. Tanaka's Faces of UVic Research video:

The Visual Cognition Lab:

The Centre for Autism Research, Technology and Education:

Interdisciplinary Research

Dr. Tanaka works collaboratively with Nigel Livingston in Biology. Together, they are interested in developing adaptive technologies for children and adults with special learning needs (e.g., autism, Downs Syndrome).

Health Related Research

Dr. Tanaka and his team are developing interventions to help children with autism perceive and recognize facial expressions and identity.

Research Keywords

Community Interaction

Community Projects

Dr. Tanaka works with autistic children and their families from Victoria and surrounding area in his autism research.

International Involvement

International Research

Work on autism with Yale Child Study Centre, New Haven, CN

Countries lived/worked in

The U.S.A.

Software Development

Dr. Tanaka and his team developed the "Let's Face It!" program as an intervention tool.