Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Perception is more than meets the eye...

As a visual neuroscientist, I am interested in the science of seeing. The act of seeing starts when an image of the surroundings enters the eye. However, there is more to perception than meets the eye. What people see is not simply a translation of the image entering the eye. Thus people interested in visual perception investigate how our brains create what we actually perceive.

To bring a better understanding of visual perception to the general public, I
will be speaking in an exhibit on perception at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

Take Your Time by Olafur Eliasson

Special Event:
February 07, 2008
6:30 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater

Talk Description
Eliasson’s celebrated projects integrate art, science, and natural phenomena to create multisensory experiences that engage the observer. The first U.S. survey of his work, Take your time: Olafur Eliasson, is currently on view in the fifth-floor galleries. This program features the artist in conversation with exhibition curator Grynsztejn and special guests in an evening of conversation and tabletop experiments about time, space, and perception.

The program for the evening includes:

Kenneth Libbrecht, the head of the physics department at California Institute of Technology, who's been working on the art & science of snowflakes. You can see more here:
and here:

Alyssa Brewer, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at UC Irvine; she tracks visual perception (in people & animals) through mapping visual fields in the brain. She'll address how our visual perception works via a view of the ocean. She's here:

TJ Clark, art history from UC Berkeley, will look closely at Nicolas Poussin's painting The Sight of Death--paying particular attention to the treatment of reflections in the water surface. You can check out his faculty profile here:

Artist Olafur Eliasson will conclude the evening by looking at after-images in visual perception. More information on his SF MOMA exhibit can be found here:

Olafur Eliasson, artist
Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Friday, February 1, 2008

Seminar Announcement: Melina Uncapher

UCI Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar Announcement

Melina Uncapher, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Stanford University

From experience to memory: characterizing neural correlates of episodic encoding

Date: Monday, February, 4th
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: SSPA 2112


How are the complex neural representations of our experiences translated into those that will endure across time? And what do these transformed neural representations look like? Functional neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI have provided the opportunity to observe changes in the brain that temporally coincide with the birth of these experiential (or 'episodic') memories. Despite such powerful techniques, however, the precise neural and cognitive mechanisms responsible for the formation of memories remain unclear. Efforts to localize these mechanisms should account for at least three parameters of a neural representation of a memory. Namely, such a representation should: 1) reflect the specific processing engendered by the experience, 2) comprise a single (distributed) representation, unifying the multiple constituent elements of the experience, and 3) be enduring across time. In this talk, I will discuss an emerging conceptual framework for how the brain creates episodic memories, based on a number of fMRI studies aimed at addressing the foregoing parameters.