Heeger, David J.

David J. Heeger

Professor of Psychology, Neural Science

Professor Heeger received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. He was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, a research scientist at the NASA-Ames Research Center, and was on the faculty of Stanford before coming to NYU in 2002.

Research in Professor Heeger’s computational neuroimaging laboratory spans an interdisciplinary cross-section of engineering, psychology, and neuroscience. The current focus of his research is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to quantitatively investigate the relationship between brain and behavior. The vast majority of neuroimaging experiments from other labs around the world have focused on which parts of the brain are involved in a particular cognitive or perceptual task. Although this has been an important first step, perception and cognition depend not only on which brain areas are active, but also on how neuronal activity within each of those areas varies over space and time. Professor Heeger is using fMRI to measure the timing and amplitude of brain activity, for testing computational theories of the neural processing underlying cognition and perception. He uses fMRI to study visual awareness, visual pattern detection/discrimination, visual motion perception, stereo depth perception, attention, working memory, the control of eye and hand movements, and neural processing of complex audio-visual and emotional experiences (movies, music, narrative).

In the fields of image processing, computer vision, and computer graphics, Professor Heeger has worked on motion estimation and image registration, wavelet image representations, anisotropic diffusion (edge-preserving noise reduction), image fidelity metrics (for evaluating image data compression algorithms), texture analysis/synthesis and scientific visualization. In the fields of perceptual psychology and systems/cognitive neuroscience, he has worked on computational models of neuronal processing in the visual system, psychophysical (perceptual psychology) measurements of human vision, and neuroimaging.

Professor Heeger was awarded the David Marr Prize in computer vision in 1987, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Neuroscience in 1994, the Troland Award in psychology from the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Faculty Award in the Sciences from New York University in 2006. He became an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.