James T. Enns

Department of Psychology

Phone: 604 822-6634

Web pages: Lab Website



  • PhD in Psychology, Princeton Univeristy


  • Vision
  • Attention
  • Cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience
  • Computational vision
  • Development of perception and attention

Research Interests

We study how the human mind selects information. This selectivity is what is meant by attention, which involves a dynamic interplay among biological (neural), experiential (learning), and intentional (goals) factors.

Our studies explore how the external world is represented inside and outside of conscious awareness, how perception changes as an individual matures, how specific experiences change what we see, how actions influence perception, and how to design visual displays for aesthetic interest and optimal performance. The Research page highlights recent projects as presented at conferences.

Our current aim is to change the way cognitive scientists measure human response and experience. To do this we are moving away from the staple of modern cognitive psychology -- simple key presses and brief responses -- toward the measurement of whole body responses. In some studies we are video-taping participants while they perform visual-cognitive tasks in order to study the influence of environmental and cognitive factors on behavior that is visible to a third person. This allows us to study many interesting aspects of person perception in its own right. A long-term goal is to develop and combine measures of human experience using a wide variety of approaches, from first-person reports, eye tracking, limb movement, body posture, facial expressions, respiration and heart rate. We are supported by a generous award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (2009) to Alan Kingstone (BAR Lab) and James Enns (UBC Vision Lab).

Selected Publications

136. Martin, E.W., Enns, J.T., & Shapiro, K.L. (in press). Turning the attentional blink on and off: Opposing effects of spatial and temporal noise. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. [pdf]

135. Lleras, A., Porporino, M., Burack, J.A., & Enns, J.T. (in press). Rapid resumption of interrupted search is independent of age-related improvements in visual search. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. [pdf

134. Ghorashi, S., Enns, J.T., Klein, R., DiLollo, V. (2010). Spatial selection and target identification are separable in visual search. Journal of Vision, 10(3):7, 1-12. [pdf]

133. Watson, M.R., Brennan, A.A., Kingstone, A., & Enns, J.T. (2010) Looking versus seeing: Strategies alter eye movements during visual search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17(4), 543-549. [pdf]

132. Oriet, C., & Enns, J.T. (2010). The role of temporal synchrony in perceptual object formation and updating. Visual Cognition, 18(8), 1176-1213. [pdf]

131. Watson, M.R., & Enns, J.T. (in press). Depth perception. In V. S. Ramachandran (Editor in Chief), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 2nd Edition (Chapter 130, pp. xx-xx). Elsevier, Inc. [pdf]

130. DiPaola, S., Riebe, C., & Enns, J.T. (2010). Rembrandt's textural agency: A shared perspective in visual art and science. Leonardo, 43(2), 145-151. [pdf]

129. Corbett, J.E., Enns, J.T. & Handy, T.C. (2009). Electrophysiological evidence for a post-perceptual influence of global visual context on perceived orientation. Brain Research. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2009.07.038. [pdf]

128. Cameron, B.D., Enns, J.T., Franks, I.M., & Chua, R. (2009). The hand's automatic pilot can update visual information while the eye is in motion. Experimental Brain Research, 195(3), 445-54. [pdf]

127. Ghorashi, S., Spalek, T.M., Enns, J.T., & Di Lollo, V. (2009). Are spatial selection and identity extraction separable when attention is controlled endogenously? Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71(6), 1233-1240. [pdf]

126. Kahan, T.A. & Enns, J.T. (2010). Object trimming: When masking dots alter rather than replace target representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 36, 88-102. [pdf]

125. Ghorashi, S., Enns, J.T., & Di Lollo, V. (2009). Spatial cueing does not affect the magnitude of the attentional blink. Attention, Perception & Psychophsyics, 71, 989-993. [pdf]

124. Burack, J.A., Joseph , S., Russo, N., Shore, D. I., Porporino, M., & Enns, J.T. (2009). Change detection in naturalistic pictures among children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(3), 471-479. [pdf]

123. Corbett, J.E., Handy, T.C., & Enns, J.T. (2009). When do we know which way is up? The time course of orientation perception. Vision Research, 49(1), 28-37. [pdf]

122. Enns, J.T. & Lleras, A. (2008). What's next? New evidence for prediction in human vision. Trends in Cognitive Science, 12(9), 327-333. [pdf]

121. Iarocci, G, Enns, J.T., Randolph, B., & Burack, J.A. (2009). The modulation of visual orienting reflexes across the lifespan. Developmental Science. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00810.x [pdf]

120. Kawahara, J., & Enns, J.T. (2009). Selection difficulty and inter-item competition are independent factors in rapid visual stream perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 35, 146-158 [pdf]



Courses Taught
PSYC 366 Research Methods, PSYC 463 Laboratory in Perception, PSYC 309B Cognitive Psychology