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Jacqui Howell BA(Hons)

Jacqui exploring horizontal-vertical illusion in vision, haptics and audition

What are you currently researching?

I am currently exploring the horizontal-vertical illusion in vision, haptics and audition. The horizontal-vertical illusion is the tendency for length to be overestimated in certain planes of space. If the illusion does exist in all three senses it is possible that all senses use the same perceptual principles for spatial perception. This research will help to address the question ‘why do illusions occur?’ which has yet to be successfully answered.

My PhD supervisors are Dr Mark Symmons and Dr Dianne Wuillemin.

Where has your research taken you?

I have successfully had a paper accepted to present at the annual international haptic conference ‘Eurohaptics 2010’ which will be held at Amsterdam, Netherlands. This will prove to be a very valuable experience with the opportunity to discuss my research with many authors with expertise in haptics and perception.

What facet of Monash University contributes most to your research?

As my research involves conducting experiments I often require space to carry out these experiments and to store equipment. My research is aided greatly by the laboratory space provided by the Bionics and Cognitive Science Centre within the School of Applied Media & Social Sciences, at Monash University Gippsland Campus. Without this space I would have difficulty conducting the experiments that are necessary for my research.

What have you enjoyed the most about undertaking research in your subject area?

The most enjoyable area of my research is the experiments I conduct, particularly the design and analyses stages. Additionally, I always enjoy applying the findings of my experiments to everyday life. As I am studying human perception it is always interesting to understand how the environment is understood by our minds.

What has been the greatest challenge?

The biggest challenge I have faced during my research was building my own apparatus. I needed a device that could present moving visual, haptic and auditory stimuli and none of the existing apparatus were appropriate for the job. I was able to design and build a wooden device and the electronics that powered a light and buzzer with the help of Dr Barry Richardson and Robert Howell.


In 2010 I attended the Eurohaptics conference in Amsterdam where I presented a peer-reviewed paper based on part of my PhD research.