Sensory Science Research


The Psychophysics Laboratory is situated in the Human Sciences Building of the University of Auckland. Professor R. John Irwin, who was the Director until semi-retirement in 1999, founded the laboratory on the corner of Symonds and Alfred Streets, in 1964. The laboratory moved to the other side of Symonds Street (the Human Sciences Building) in 1978, and has since remained at this location. Under John Irwin, the psychophysics laboratory came to specialise in auditory psychophysics, although research on vision, taste, and pain has also featured. Additionally, the laboratory took an early interest in Signal Detection Theory, and both empirical and theoretical research was conducted to investigate the new theory.



Since Professor Irwin's retirement, Associate Professor Michael Hautus has managed the laboratory. Regular equipment and software upgrades ensure the laboratory is fully prepared to investigate contemporary issues in psychophysical research.


Research conducted in the Psychophysics Laboratory has diversified in recent years. While auditory research still features, this has been extended from auditory psychophysics into the area of auditory neuroscience. To this end we have available an EEG facility that is located adjacent to the Psychophysics Laboratory, and other imaging technologies are available locally. This work is in itself diverse; for example, we investigate issues related to auditory noise sensitivity, and to Autistic Spectrum Disorder.



Taste and olfactory research is undertaken in several locations, including nearby space suited to one-on-one sensory testing, a Food Science Laboratory located over the road, and laboratories associated with external collaborators in the Auckland region.