Please visit my personal website for updates after Summer 2019!

Hello, my name is Catrina Hacker and I recently graduated from USC with a B.S. in neuroscience. I joined the Image Understanding Lab in Fall 2016 after developing an interest in how the brain automatically and effortlessly allows us to make sense of a novel image in just a fraction of a second.

My work in the IUL combined behavioral, computational and imaging techniques to better understand the process by which different areas of the brain work together to instantly form a sophisticated representation of an identity given only a glance at a face. One branch of my research focused on the facility and rapidity of familiar face recognition under conditions of high uncertainty. This research (Hacker et al., 2018) has shown that an unspecified familiar celebrity face can be detected and identified in as little as 133 msec, demonstrating the remarkable speed of face recognition.

My senior thesis, "The invariance of recognition to the stretching of faces is not explained by familiarity or warping to an average face" explored our surprising ability to recognize faces that have been stretched vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, demonstrating that this remarkable invariance is independent of familiarity with a face (Hacker & Biederman, 2019).

My final major project in the IUL explored two possible components of face recognition: proficiency for face perception and face memory. I found evidence for the independence of these components, challenging the assumption that face recognition is an undifferentiated ability. This work has motivated further studies exploring the genetic basis of these independent components, other possible independent components of face recognition such as ability to generalize across viewpoints, and the possible existence of subtypes of prosopagnosia based on these components.

I am currently a graduate student in the University of Pennsylvania's Neuroscience Graduate Group.


Posters and Presentations

Honors and Awards

Contact Information

University of Southern California
Image Understanding Lab HNB 316
3641 Watt Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2520
Lab Phone: (213) 740-6102
Fax: (213) 740-5687