» Representations in the Mind and in the World: How Cognitive Science Can Inform the Design of Visualizations
Professor, Department of Psychology
University of California, Santa Barbara
In recent years, with developments in computer graphics and human-computer interaction techniques, dynamic and interactive displays have become commonplace. New research communities in scientific visualization, information visualization and visual analytics have developed around questions of how to best design and use these information technologies to address current challenges in fields such as medicine, emergency and critical infrastructure management, and science. It is tempting to believe that these are technical challenges that can be met by the creation of more realistic, detailed, and interactive visualizations. But cognitive science research indicates that the most effective visual representations are often sparse and simple. When given control over interactive visualizations, people do not always use these technologies effectively or choose the most effective external representations for the task at hand. Furthermore, individual differences in internal visualization ability can be more predictive of task performance than the availability of powerful external visualizations. Therefore I will argue that the design of effective visualizations is as much a challenge for cognitive science as for computer and information science, and that these disciplines must collaborate closely on the development of new information technologies and visualization design.» Bio
Mary Hegarty received her BA and MA from University College Dublin, Ireland. She worked as a research assistant for three years at the Irish national educational research centre before attending Carnegie Mellon, where she received her Ph.D. in Psychology in 1988. She has been on the faculty of the Department of Psychology, UCSB since then. The author of over 75 articles and chapters on spatial cognition, diagrammatic reasoning, and individual differences, she is co-editor of an edited book on diagrammatic reasoning and inference. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Society, a former Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, and is the chair elect of the Cognitive Science Society. She is Associate Editor of TopiCS in Cognitive Science and is on the editorial board of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition and Spatial Cognition and Computation. Her current research is funded by the National Science Foundation.