David E. Irwin



  • 2255 Beckman Institute
  • 405 North Mathews Avenue
  • Urbana, Illinois 61801


David Irwin received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1983. He is a professor in the University of Illinois Department of Psychology and an affiliate faculty member in the Beckman Institute Human Perception and Performance Group. His fields of professional interest include visual cognition, attention, visual perception, visual memory, eye movements, spatial cognition, and psycholinguistics.


John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1991-1992); James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical Award (1991-1992).


David Irwin's work deals with how people perceive, remember, and communicate about the visual world, core components of research in the areas of biological intelligence and human perception and performance. Much of his research has concentrated on a classic problem in perception: How do people perceive the visual world as unified, stable, and continuous despite the frequent disruptions caused by movements of the eyes? He has addressed this question by examining how people combine information across eye movements. More recently he has investigated why eye movements interfere with certain cognitive activities but not others. Other aspects of visual cognition, such as visual attention and object recognition, also interest him. Another interest concerns the relationship between spatial perception and spatial language: How do perceived spatial relationships influence the way people talk about space, and what does the way people talk about space reveal how people represent aspects of the spatial environment?

Irwin's sources of research support include the National Science Foundation and the U of I Research Board.


  • 2011
    • Kuchinsky, S. E.; Bock, K.; Irwin, D. E., Reversing the Hands of Time: Changing the Mapping From Seeing to Saying. Journal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and Cognition 2011, 37, (3), 748-756.

  • 2009
    • Higgins, J. S.; Irwin, D. E.; Wang, R. F.; Thomas, L. E., Visual direction constancy across eyeblinks. Attention Perception & Psychophysics 2009, 71, (7), 1607-1617.

  • 2007
    • Irwin, D. E.; Thomas, L. E., The effect of saccades on number processing. Perception & Psychophysics 2007, 69, (3), 450-458.

    • Higgins, J. S.; Wang, R. X. F.; Irwin, D. E., The landmark effect in perceived object stability: A general mechanism. Visual Cognition 2007, 15, (1), 91-94.

  • 2006
    • Wang, R. X. F.; Crowell, J. A.; Simons, D. J.; Irwin, D. E.; Kramer, A. F.; Ambinder, M. S.; Thomas, L. E.; Gosney, J. L.; Levinthal, B. R.; Hsieh, B. B., Spatial updating relies on an egocentric representation of space: Effects of the number of objects. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2006, 13, (2), 281-286.

    • Thomas, L. E.; Irwin, D. E., Voluntary eyeblinks disrupt iconic memory. Perception & Psychophysics 2006, 68, (3), 475-488.

  • 2004
    • Irwin, D.E., Fixation Location and Fixation Duration as Indices of Cognitive Processing. In The Integration of Language, Vision, and Action: Eye Movements and the Visual World; Henderson, J.M.; Ferreira, F., Eds.; Psychology Press: New York, 2004.

  • 2003
    • McCarley, J.S.; Wang, R.F.; Kramer, A.F.; Irwin, D.E.; Peterson, M.S., How Much Memory Does Oculomotor Search Have? Psychological Science 2003, 14, 422-426.

    • Brockmole, J.R.; Irwin, D.E.; Wang, R.F., The Locus of Spatial Attention During the Temporal Integration of Visual Memories and Visual Percepts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2003, 10, 510-515.

    • Irwin, D.E., Eye Movements and Visual Cognitive Suppression. In The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Cognitive Vision; Irwin, D.E.; Ross, B.H., Eds.; Academic Press: San Diego, 2003; 42.

    • Bock, J.K.; Irwin, D.E.; Davidson, D.J.; Levelt, W.J.M., "Minding the Clock," Journal of Memory and Language 2003, 48, 653-685.

  • 2002
    • Irwin, D.E. and Zelinsky, G.J. (2002), "Eye Movements and Scene Perception: Memory for Things Observed," Perception & Psychophysics, 64, pp. 882-895.


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