Michael Webster

Co-Director of the Graduate MS/PhD Neuroscience Program, Co-Director of the Undergraduate BS Neuroscience Program, Director of the COBRE for Integrative Neuroscience
Headshot of Michael Webster


Michael Webster is a vision scientist who studies the cognitive and neural processes that underlie how we see. Much of his work focuses on characterizing how our perception adapts when the environment changes (e.g we move to a drier climate) or we change (e.g. as we age). He has discovered a number of novel and influential forms of adaptation, affecting how we see colors, how we correct for blurry vision, and how our perception of someone's face depends on the faces we have seen previously.

His research has been funded continuously by grants from the National Institute of Health, and he has been recognized at the University of Nevada, Reno by a foundation professorship and Outstanding Researcher Award. At the University, he also has led a number of campus-wide neuroscience initiatives. He is the director of a $10 million NIH COBRE grant establishing a Center for Integrative Neuroscience that has brought research funding for junior faculty and many new resources, including an fMRI facility. He founded and co-directs the undergraduate major in neuroscience and led the proposal to establish an upcoming Master of Science/doctoral degree program in neuroscience.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive neuroscience of human vision
  • Visual adaptation
  • Color and form perception
  • Face perception
  • Environmental and cultural influences on perception


  • Psychology 405/605 - Perception
  • Psychology 427/627 - Computer application
  • Psychology 720 - Vision


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of California Berkeley, 1988
  • B.A., Psychology, University of California San Diego, 1981


  1. Webster, M.A. "Visual adaptation." Annual Review of Vision Science, forthcoming.
  2. Radhakrishnan, A., Dorronsoro, C., Sawides, L., Webster, M.A., and Marcos, S. "A cyclopean neural mechanism compensating for optical differences between the eyes." Current Biology, forthcoming.
  3. O'Neil, S.F., Mac, A. Rhodes, G., and Webster, M.A. "Adding years to your life (or at least looking like it): a simple normalization underlies adaptation to facial age." PLoS one, in press.
  4. Webster, M.A. (2014). "Probing the functions of contextual modulation by adapting images rather than observers." Vision Research 104, 68-79.
  5. Kompaniez, E., Abbey, C.K., Boone, J.M., and Webster, M.A. (2013). "Adaptation aftereffects in the perception of radiological images." PloS one, 8(10), e76175.
  6. Webster, M.A. and Kay, P. (2012). "Color categories and color appearance." Cognition, 122, 375-392.
  7. Webster, M.A. (2011). "Adaptation and visual coding." Journal of Vision 11(5):3, 1-23.
  8. Webster, M.A. and MacLeod, D.I.A. (2011). "Visual adaptation and the perception of faces." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 366, 1702-1725.
  9. McDermott, K.C.,Malkoc, G., Mulligan, J.B. and Webster, M.A. (2010). "Adaptation and visual salience." Journal of Vision 10, 17: 1-32.
  10. Webster, M. A., Halen, K., Meyers, A. J., Winkler, P., and Werner, J. S. (2010). "Color appearance and compensation in the near periphery." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 377, 1817-1825.
  11. McCollough Howard, C. and Webster, M. A. (2009). McCollough Effect. Scholarpedia 6(2): 8175.
  12. Webster, M.A. and Leonard, D.L. (2008). Adaptation and perceptual norms in color vision. Journal of the Optical Society of America A 25, 2817-2825.
  13. Mizokami, Y., Werner, J.S., Crognale, M.A. and Webster, M.A. (2006). "Nonlinear color coding: compensating color appearance for the eye's spectral sensitivity." Journal of Vision 6, 996-1007.
  14. Webster, M.A., Kaping, D., Mizokami, Y., and Duhamel, P. (2004). "Adaptation to natural facial categories." Nature 428, 558-561.
  15. Webster,M.A., Georgeson, M.A. and Webster, S.M.(2002). "Neural adjustments to image blur." Nature Neuroscience 5, 839-840.
  16. Webster, M.A., Miyahara, E., Malkoc, G. and Raker, V.E. (2000). "Variations in normal color vision: II. Unique hues." Journal of the Optical Society of America A 17, 1545-1555.
  17. Webster, M.A. and MacLin, O. (1999). "Figural after-effects in the perception of faces." Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 6, 647-653.
  18. Webster, M.A. and Mollon, J.D (1997). "Adaptation and the color statistics of natural images." Vision Research 37, 3283-3298.
  19. Webster, M.A. and Mollon, J.D. (1995). "Colour constancy influenced by contrast adaptation." Nature 373, 694-698.
  20. Webster, M.A. and Mollon, J.D. (1991). "Changes in colour appearance following post-receptoral adaptation." Nature 349, 235-238.