Jim Tanaka

Jim Tanaka
Office: COR A189

Ph.D. 1989 (Oregon) joined Department in 2003

Area of expertise

Cognition and brain sciences

My research examines the cognitive and neurological processes underlying object and face recognition. I am particularly interested in questions related to how experience influences the way we perceive and recognize objects in the world.

To address these questions, we have been studying the perceptual processes involved in expert object recognition, such as birdwatching, and face recognition - a kind of perceptual expertise in which we are all experts.

In a related line of research, we have been working with children with autism in a program designed to improve their face recognition abilities.

For more information, see my Expertise Database profile.


  • Visual object and face recognition

Faces of UVic Research video

In this video, Jim Tanaka discusses the problems autistic children have with face recognition and explains the computer game that he and his lab have developed to help autistic children in this area.


Halliday, D. W., MacDonald, S. W., Sherf, S. K., & Tanaka, J. W. (2014). A reciprocal model of face recognition and autistic traits: Evidence from an individual differences perspective. PloS one9(5), e94013.

Tanaka, J.W., Kaiser, M.D., Hagen & Pierce, L.J. (2014). Losing face: Impaired discrimination of featural and configural information in the mouth region of an inverted face. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 76, 1000-1014.

Tanaka, J.W., Quinn, P., Xu, B., Maynard, K., Huxtable, Kang, L. & Pascalis, O. (2014). The effects of information type (features versus configuration) and location (eyes versus mouth) on the development of face perception. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 124, 36-4

Xu, B., & Tanaka, J. W. (2013). Does face inversion qualitatively change face processing: An eye movement study using a face change detection task. Journal of Vision, 13(2), 1-16.