OSA | Living History

Ken Nakayama

OSA Awards & Distinctions



Ken Nakayama received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Haverford College. From there, he obtained his Ph.D. at UCLA in the field of physiological psychology followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley. After a two year stint teaching in a medical school in Newfoundland, he spent 19 productive years at the Smith Kettlwell Eye Institute. In 1990 he was recruited to the Psychology Department at Harvard, later becoming the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology. In 2017, he received OSA’s Edgar D. Tillyer Award “for wide ranging studies of the visual system, especially for unique and critical contributions to the formulation of a distinct level of visual processing, that of visual surfaces.”

Nakayama has had a long career studying the visual system in many settings and at various levels. Starting his career recording from single units in the mammalian visual system, he switched to the study of human vision, studying image motion processing, visual attention, eye movements, visually controlled reaching and the processing of faces. Most notable has been his studies of the perception of visual surfaces, a key intermediate level of visual processing. 



Document Created: 19 Apr 2018
Last Updated: 19 Jun 2020