The Science of Vision: Is Perception Reality?
A talk by Dr. Tiago Altavini, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Scientist, The Rockefeller University
The processing of visual information in the brain is not a passive phenomenon where the brain simply takes an input (light reaching your eyes) and gives an output (visual perception). Scientists have come to realize that to understand visual perception is not just a matter of understanding how colors and shapes are represented in the brain. Although that is essential to understand how vision happens we also know that visual information processing is actually shaped by our momentary goals. If you are looking for a specific object, like a pen or your keys, there will be momentary changes in your brain that might make it easier for you to recognize the shape of that particular object. Therefore, in order to fully understand how visual perception happens we have to consider the brain as an active processor, capable of adapting itself for each visual task it performs at different times. In this talk we will go through the fundamentals of the visual system and take a look at the current efforts being made to try to understand how these adaptive changes happen in the visual system.
Tiago Siebert Altavini is a neuroscientist working in the Laboratory of Neurobiology in The Rockefeller University. He has been studying different aspects of the visual system since he was a biology undergrad student at the University of Brasilia. The interest in neuroscience of vision led him to a PhD at the University of Rio Grande do Norte where he worked with Dr. Kerstin Schmidt at the university’s Brain Institute. His PhD research was on the visual connections in the brain and their influence in patterns of spontaneous brain activity. Now working with Dr. Charles Gilbert he is investigating the top-down influence of feedback connections on object recognition. The aim of such research is to understand the mechanisms by which expectation influences visual perception.
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