Accessibility statement

Peter Thompson



  • University of Reading
    BSc (1972)
    PGCE (1973)
  • Cambridge University
    PhD (1976)

Graduated from University of Reading and studied for his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He won a Harkness Fellowship from the Commonwealth Fund which enabled him to spend a period of post-doctoral study at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1990 he spent six months at N.A.S.A.'s Ames Research Center in California, funded by a Senior Research Associateship from the National Academy of Sciences. Teaches visual perception, research interest primarily in the perception of motion. Awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Award and a National Teaching Fellowship in 2006. Awarded the British Psychological Society's Award for Excellence in Psychology Education in 2012. Elected Fellow of the British Psychological Society, 2012.


  • University of Pennsylvania
    Harkness Fellowship, Department of Psychology (1976-1977)
  • University of York
    Senior lecturer (1978)
  • NASA Ames Research Center
    NRC Senior Research Associate (1990)



Perception of motion and speed. My research recently has focussed on the mechanisms underlying adaptation to motion and recovery from adaptation. This is linked with research on the effects of contrast on perceived speed. This research has led to the development of a physiologically plausibe model of motion processing in the early stages of vision that relies on the ratio of fast and slow temporal mechanisms. That the tuning characteristics of the underlying mechanisms of the model have some characteristics of parvo- and magno-cellular pathways is interesting.

I am not, nor ever have been, involved in serious research into face perception.

Research group(s)

  • Perception and Action


  • Higher Education Funding Council for England
    P. Thompson and R. Stone (2002-2004) ‘Perception Picture Pool: a web resource of images for visual perception’ HEFCE FDTL4 £74,908
  • British Aerospace
    P. Thompson 1994-1997 Effective 3-D displays from 2-D screens. Funded by British Aerospace (Military Aircraft Division) £46,000
  • British Aerospace
    P. Thompson 1997-1999 Stereoscopic displays. Funded by British Aerospace (Military Aircraft and Aerostructures) £154,628
  • Wellcome Trust
    P. Thompson and S.T. Hammett ‘(2001-2005) ‘Psychophysical and fMRI studies of perceived speed in the human visual system’. Wellcome Trust, £117,718
  • University of York Fund for Innovation and Development in Teaching and Learning
    P. Thompson & R.Stone (2001) Web-based 'Powerpoint' resource library for perception University of York Fund for Innovation and Development in Teaching and Learning. £2683
  • Microsoft Research Ltd
    Thompson, P. 2006 Viperlib ; Gift from Microsoft Research Ltd, External Research office. £25,000
  • Wellcome Trust
    Morgan, M, Thompson, P., Grant, S., Fahle, & Rees, G. 2006-2009 ‘Sensori-motor Mechanisms of Extrapolation in Human Vision’. Wellcome Trust. £274,502
  • Marylebone Cricket Club
    Thompson, P & Hammett S. 2007-2009 Effects on low contrast and low light on cricket. Funded by the MCC. £5,000


Current research is in collaboration with Steve Hammett at Royal Holloway and Bedford College, funded by a Wellcome grant to Hammett and Thompson. Collaborating with Stuart Anstis of UCSD on aspects of the 'Footsteps Illusion'. Research collaboration with Michael Morgan at City University, funded by the Wellcome trust. Research project with Steve Hammett on visibility of cricket balls at low luminance and low contrast funded by the MCC.


Selected publications

  • Hammett, S.T., Champion, R.A., Morland, A.B., & Thompson, P.G. (2005). A ratio model of perceived speed in the human visual system. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272, 2351-2356.
  • Thompson, P, Papadopoulou, G. & Vassiliou, E. (2007) The origins of entasis: illusion, aesthetics or engineering? Spatial Vision 20 531-543
  • Hammett, S. T., Thompson, P. G., & Bedingham, S. The dynamics of velocity adaptation in human vision. Current Biology 10, (2000). 1123-1126.
  • Howe, P.D.L., Thompson, P., Anstis, S.M., Sagreiya, H., & Livingstone, M.S. (2006). Explaining the Footstaps, Bellydance, Wenceslas and Kickback illusions. Journal of Vision 6 1396-1405
  • Thompson, P., Brooks, K., & Hammett, S.T. (2006). Reducing stimulus contrast: speed can go up as well as down. Vision Research, 46, 782-786.



  • Perception
  • Nature & Nurture of Vision
  • Damage to the Visual Brain

External activities


  • Experimental Psychology Society
  • Vision Sciences Society
  • Applied Vision Association

Editorial duties

  • Perception
    Executive editor

Contact details

Peter Thompson
Department of Psychology
Room PS/B115

Tel: 01904 323150