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David Brainard

Professor of Psychology
Director, Vision Research Center; Director, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science

Harvard University, A.B. Physics. 
Stanford University, M.S. Electrical Engineering 
Stanford University, Ph.D. Psychology.

Office Location: 
3401 Walnut, C Wing, Suite 302C

I am interested in human vision, machine vision, and computational modeling of visual processing. My primary research is concerned with how the visual system estimates object properties from the information available in the light signal incident at the eye. To study this general problem, I conduct psychophysical experiments to investigate questions such as how object color appearance is related to object surface properties under a wide range of illumination conditions and how color is used to identify objects. In addition, I am interested in developing machine visual systems that can mimic human performance and in understanding the neural mechanisms of vision.


Selected Publications

Xiao, B., Hurst, B., MacIntyre, L., Brainard, D. H. (2012). The color constancy of three-dimensional objects. Journal of Vision, 12(4:6).
Brainard, D. H. & Maloney, L. T. (2011). Surface color perception and equivalent illumination models. Journal of Vision, 11(5:1),, doi: 10.1167/11.5.1.
Olkkonen, M. & Brainard, D. H. (2010). Perceived glossiness and lightness under real-world illumination. Journal of Vision, 10(9:5),, doi 10.1167/10.9.5.
Yin, L., Smith, R. G., Sterling, P., & Brainard, D. H. (2009). Physiology and morphology of color-opponent ganglion cells in a retina expressing a dual gradient of S and M opsins. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 2706-2724. Download PDF.
Manning, J. R. & Brainard, D. H. (2009). Optimal design of photoreceptor mosaics: Why we do not see color at night. Visual Neuroscience. Feb 5:1-15. (Epub ahead of print, doi:10.1017/S095252380808084X.) Download PDF.
Brainard, D. H., Williams, D. R., & Hofer, H. (2008). Trichromatic reconstruction from the interleaved cone mosaic: Bayesian model and the color appearance of small spots. Journal of Vision, 8(5):15, 1-23,, doi:10.1167/8.5.15.

Courses Taught

  • COGS 001 Introduction to Cognitive Science
  • BIBB 217  Visual Neuroscience
  • PSYC 719 Experimental Methods in Perception


  • Psychology Graduate Group
  • Neuroscience Graduate Group
  • Bioengineering Graduate Group