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Academics - Psychology Faculty & Staff

Academics - Psychology Faculty & Staff

Karen Gunther

PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY
Picture of Gunther, Karen

CONTACT:

Baxter Hall 322
765-361-6286
guntherk@wabash.edu


Curriculum vitae

A near-native of California, but one who keeps returning to the Midwest, Prof. Gunther has taught at Wabash College since 2007. Her primary research focuses on color vision – although we have known for over 200 years that color vision begins with three different cone types in the retina, we still don’t know exactly how the retina and brain process the neural signals from the cones. The type of research she conducts, called psychophysics, is at the intersection of psychology, biology, and neuroscience - human behavioral responses to visual stimuli are used to elucidate the underlying neural mechanisms. She has taken students to conferences to present their research, both regional undergraduate conferences and national professional conferences.

Another recent line of research is a Study of Teaching and Learning, examining the use of non-fiction novels as the textbooks for teaching Sensation & Perception, to give the students more of a story line on which to hang the facts presented in class lectures. 

In her free time, Professor Gunther quilts, cooks, reads, spends time with her husband (the Sensation & Perception professor at Denison University in Ohio), and plays with her cat Sushi.

EDUCATION

Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Medical College of Wisconsin, 
     Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2002-2006
     Topic:  molecular genetics of color vision
PhD, Cognitive Science Interdisciplinary Program
     primary field: Psychology
     secondary field: Neuroscience
     UC San Diego, 2002  
     Dissertation topic: color vision
MA, Psychology
     UC San Diego, 1996  
     Thesis topic: music perception
BA, Biopsychology
     Oberlin College
     Oberlin, OH, 1992

RECENT COURSE OFFERINGS

Specialty courses:
            PSY232 – Sensation & Perception & PSY/NSC332 – Research in
                 Sensation & Perception
            PSY235 – Cognitive Neuropsychology
            PSY/NSC310 – Sensory Transduction
            PSY/NSC104 – Introduction to Neuroscience
            PSY107 – Health Psychology
Psychology core courses:
            PSY101 – Introductory Psychology
            PSY201/202 – Research Methods and Statistics
            PSY301 – Literature Review
            PSY495/496 – Senior Capstone Research Experience
All-college courses:
            Freshman Tutorials (Interdisciplinary Color and Science and
                Pseudoscience)

            Enduring Questions

RESEARCH

Grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (2018-2021), RUI:  Stimulus Characteristics Influencing Non-Cardinal Color Mechanisms

RECENT PRESENTATIONS

Cortically-stimulating gratings reveal non-cardinal colors better than do LGN-stimulating spots
     - International Colour Vision Society, Riga, Latvia, July 2019
     - Optical Society of America Fall Vision Meeting, Univ. of Nevada,
          Reno, Sept. 2018
     - work with Jorge Rodriguez W'18, Colby Dunigan W'18 & Carson
          Powell W'16

Non-cardinal color mechanisms:  Stimulus size matters.  
     - International Colour Vision Society, Sendai, Japan, July 2015
     - work with Colin Downey W'15

Non-cardinal mechanism visual search performance parallels cardinal mechanism performance across the retina, but may be weaker in the non-isoluminant planes of color space.
     - International Colour Vision Society, Winchester, England, July 2013
     - Vision Sciences Society, Naples, FL, May 2013

What Where's Waldo can tell us about visual anatomy
     - Division III Colloquium Series, Wabash College, September 2012
     - Psychology Department, University of Nevada, Reno, May 2012
     - Psychology Department, DePauw University, October 2011
     - work with Rob Dalhaus W'11

Red/green color naming declines in the periphery.  "Blue"/"yellow" does not.  What happens in visual search?
     - International Colour Vision Society, Kongsberg, Norway, July 2011
     (Rob Dalhaus W'11's capstone project)

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Gunther, K.L. & McKinney, M.R. (W'17)  (2020).  Poor peripheral binding depends in part on stimulus color.  Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 82(7), 3606-3617.

Watson, Q.J. (W'16) & Gunther, K.L.  (2017).  Trombones elicit bitter more strongly than do clarinets:  A partial replication of three studies of Crisinel and Spence.  Multisensory Research, 30, 321-335.

Gunther, K.L. & Downey, C.O. (W'15)  (2016).  Influence of stimulus size on revealing non-cardinal color mechanisms.  Vision Research, 127, 57-66.

Gunther, K.L. (2014).  Non-cardinal color perception across the retina:  Easy for orange, hard for burgundy and sky blue.  Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 31(4), A274-A282.

Gunther, K.L.  (2014).  Non-cardinal color mechanism strength differs across color planes but not across subjects.  Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 31(4), A293-A302.

Dalhaus, R.N., III (W’11) & Gunther, K.L. (2012).  A tritan Waldo would be easier to detect in the periphery than a red/green one: Evidence from visual search.  The Journal of Optical Society of America A, 29(2), A298-A305.

Gunther, K.L. (2011). The use of “non-fiction novels” in a sensation and perception course. The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education,10(1), A14-A23.

Gunther, K.L., Neitz, J., & Neitz, M. (2008). Nucleotide polymorphisms upstream of the X-chromosome opsin gene array tune L:M cone ratio. Visual Neuroscience, 25(3), 265-271.

Baraas, R.C., Carroll, J., Gunther, K.L., Chung, M., Williams, D.R., Foster, D.H., & Neitz, M. (2007). Adaptive-optics retinal imaging reveals S-cone dystrophy in tritan color vision deficiency. Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 24(5), 1438-1447.

Gunther, K.L., Neitz, J., & Neitz, M. (2006). A novel mutation in the short-wavelength sensitive cone pigment gene associated with a tritan color vision defect. Visual Neuroscience, 23(3-4), 403-409.