My broad interests lie in how evolution has shaped the form and behaviours of animals. My current research centres around camouflage, animal colouration and vision; therefore allowing me to straddle the boundary between biology and psychology. After studying for my undergraduate degree in biology, I crossed the border into psychology for my PhD. This led me on a journey into the world of vision and psychophysics. For my PhD I used psychophysics experiments with human participants to establish whether naturally occurring camouflage strategies such as background matching and disruptive colouration can provide an advantage to objects when they are moving as well as when they are stationary. I found that such strategies cannot prevent detection or capture of a moving object but, under conditions where there are similarly patterned distractors present, they can slow down the process of identification through an enhancement of the confusion effect (Hall et al, 2013). I then moved on to use psychophysics techniques to address a different camouflage strategy: dazzle patterns. These are high contrast geometric patterns that have been suggested to disrupt the perception of range, heading, size, shape and speed. In this project we showed that dynamic striped patterns are able to distort speed perception under both neutral and stressful situations (Hall et al, in prep) Currently I am involved with a research project investigating whether iridescence can be deceptive. We will be using behavioural and psychophysics experiments to examine the effects of iridescence on target detection, identification and capture in bees, birds and humans. Whilst most of my research is based on the visual system, I also have an interest in how olfactory cues can affect behaviours and, in the case of natural fragrances, why such cues have evolved.
In 2008 I graduated from the University of Sheffield with a BSc in Animal Behaviour. I then moved to Bristol to study for a PhD, investigating whether it is possible to camouflage moving objects. I was jointly supervised by Dr. Roland Baddeley (Experimental Psychology), Dr. Nick Scott-Samuel (Experimental Psychology), Prof. Innes Cuthill (Biological Sciences) and Dr. Adam Shohet (QinetiQ). The project was supported by a CASE Studentship funded by the EPSRC and QinetiQ. After completing my PhD in 2012, I worked on a one-year, DSTL funded project with Dr. Nick Scott-Samuel, Prof. Innes Cuthill, Dr. Roland Baddeley, Dr. Angela Attwood and Prof. Marcus Munafo investigating the effects of standard and adaptive dazzle camouflage on perceived speed in neutral and stressful situations. I then moved to Cardiff University to work as a postdoc with Prof Tim Jacob on a Proctor and Gamble funded project investigating the physiological effects of fragrances on humans. This provided the opportunity to gain experience of both olfactory and EEG studies. I am now back in Bristol, working in CamoLab as a Research Associate on a 3-year BBSRC funded project investigating whether iridescence can be deceptive.
Hall, J. R, Cuthill, I. C., Roland Baddeley, Angela S. Attwood, Marcus R. Munafò, Nicholas E. Scott-Samuel 2016. Dynamic dazzle distorts speed perception. PLoS ONE, 11(5), e0155162.
Hall, J. R., Cuthill, I. C., Baddeley, R. J., Shohet, A. J. & Scott-Samuel, N. E. 2013. Camouflage, detection and identification of moving targets. Proceedings of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences, 280(1758), pp. 1-7.