OPAM History

Below you will find the program from that first workshop, an excerpt from the introduction of an 1999 Acta Psychologica special issue featuring OPAM papers that largely explains the motivation for starting OPAM, and an archive of past OPAM websites.

The Beginning

The first OPAM program (November 1993, Washington DC).

1999 Acta Psychologica Special Issue

Wagemans, J., Tarr, M. J., & Hummel, J. E. (1999). Guest editorial to the special issue on visual object perception. Acta Psychologica, 102, 105-111.

"The visual perception of objects is one of these things we effortlessly perform thousands of times a day. Incredibly, despite its ubiquitous nature, we understand so little about object perception that no artificial systems exist with capabilities even close to those of many biological systems. Moreover, as a topic of study for experimental psychology, it has only come into its own in the past 20-30 years - in large part due to the availability of cheap, powerful PCs capable of presenting high-quality images. There has also been increased interest in object perception from scientists working in other disciplines, for example, computer vision and neuroscience. Together, these factors have helped to create a "boomlet" in the study of high-level vision - particularly in terms of problems in object perception that fall precisely at the interface between perception and cognition.

At the same time, the past several years have seen an increasing separation between those studying cognition and those studying visual perception. This separation shows itself, for example, in the conferences people attend: The former go to the Annual Meetings of the Psychonomic Society ("Psychonomics"); the latter go to the Annual Meetings of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology ("ARVO"). Obviously there is some overlap, but there are many researchers that attend only one of these two meetings but have interests that really cover both communities. Thus, there was a need for a single, focused meeting day in which one might see a broad swath of recent work in high-level vision and, hopefully, draw vision scientists that otherwise might not attend Psychonomics. For that reason, Mike Tarr started OPAM (for Pre-Psychonomics Conference on "Object Perception And Memory") in 1993 (November, Washington DC) as an informal gathering of researchers interested in high-level vision and, in particular, object recognition. Attendees included two of the editors of this special issue and their students (some of whom have gone on to help organize future OPAMs). A second goal of OPAM was to encourage graduate students to present their work. To that end, the selection of papers has been based on reverse seniority with graduate student speakers receiving the highest priority. Thus, we are more likely to hear from those researchers who cannot present at Psychonomics.

Since 1994, OPAM has convened on the Thursday before the start of Psychonomics as a one-day workshop with spoken paper presentations and, since 1998, poster presentations. During the past several years, well over 100 people have attended each meeting. Traditionally, OPAM is organized by one or two younger researchers who are somewhat local to the Psychonomics' meeting site. Organizers for next year's meeting "volunteer" during the current OPAM meeting and are selected by the current organizers.

OPAM meetings have been expanding almost every year since inception. Notably, the OPAM community has moved beyond those primarily interested in visual cognition; in recent years, there have been an increasing number of participants who study mid-level vision or cognition, two areas that OPAM is designed to bring together. Moreover, while OPAM was intended as a forum for hearing younger scientists, we have been encouraged by the participation of a number of distinguished senior members of the community - we would like to thank them for their support and their help in making OPAM a success. With an increasing diverse group of participants, future OPAMs are likely to continue the tradition of bridging the areas of perception and cognition, thereby reinforcing important connections that otherwise might get lost in the gap between Psychonomics and ARVO."

Website Archive


Joseph Brooks, Artem Belopolsky, Michi Matsukura, Melanie Palomares


Kim Curby, Sarah Shomstein, Joseph Brooks, Artem Belopolsky


Steve Franconeri, Monica Castelhano, Kim Curby, Sarah Shomstein


Kate Arrington, Andrew Leber, Steve Franconeri, Monica Castelhano


Kate Arrington, Andrew Leber, Stephen Mitroff, Aude Oliva


Alejandro Lleras, Stephen Mitroff, Aude Oliva, Yaodo Xu


Alejandro Lleras, Robert Rauschenberger, Yaodo Xu


Andrew Hollingworth, Yuhong Jiang, Robert Rauschenberger


Laura A. Carlson, Ranxiao Frances Wang, William G. Hayward


Isabel Gauthier, Amy Lynne Shelton, Bosco Tjan


Dan Levin, Alice O'Toole


Pepper Williams, Daniel Simons


Michael K. McBeath, James W. Tanaka