2021 Public Lecture – Roland Fleming

Roland FlemingRoland Fleming,  PhD

Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany

Roland Fleming is an interdisciplinary researcher who investigates how the brain allows us to see the physical properties of objects. He studied at Oxford and MIT and has worked at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. He is currently the Kurt Koffka Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Giessen in Germany. He has won a number of prizes, including the Elsevier-Vision Sciences Society Young Investigator Award in 2013.

Big Data and the Brain: How we Learn to See ‘Stuff’ from Lots and Lots of Examples

How does the brain learn to see? When we are newborn, we can hardly recognize anything by sight, yet by the time we are adults we have exquisite visual and motor skills. Without touching objects we can make an incredible range of visual judgments about their properties. We can see an object’s 3D shape, work out whether it is soft or hard, fragile or durable, and anticipate how it is likely to respond if we try to squeeze it. Somehow, by looking at and interacting with lots of ’Stuff’, we learn how to recognize it. In this talk, vision scientist Roland Fleming will discuss some of the challenges that objects and materials pose to the visual system, and describe some of the amazing progress researchers have recently made in using deep learning to build artificial visual systems that can see like humans.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. As scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues, but also to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

Register here

Dr. Fleming will deliver the public lecture on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 12:00 pm EDT.

2018 Public Lecture – Cancelled

The 2018 Public Lecture was cancelled.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

2019 Public Lecture – Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson,  BSc, PGCE, PhD, FBPsS

University of York, UK

Following the completion of his doctorate (investigating velocity aftereffects) at the University of Cambridge in 1976, Peter Thompson was awarded a Harkness post-doctoral Fellowship from the Commonwealth Fund to study with Jack Nachmias at the University of Pennsylvania. Returning to England in 1978 he took up a lectureship at the University of York, where he has taught for 40 years.

In 1990 he was awarded a Senior Research Associateship from the U.S. National Research Council to work at NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

As well as publishing widely on a variety of topics, he has acted as a managing editor of the journal Perception for over 20 years and for i-Perception since its beginning. His textbook, Basic Vision, (written with Tom Troscianko and Bob Snowden) remains a best seller.

In 2006 he was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s teaching Award from the University of York and a National Teaching Fellowship from the English National Education Academy. In 2006 he received the British Psychological Society’s Award for Excellence in Psychology Education.

Among many outside interests, Peter enjoys cycling and in 1999 he won a Millennium Fellowship from the Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science which enabled him to create a scale model of our solar system along a 10km cycle track near York.

Peter has attended every meeting of the Vision Sciences Society since its inception.

Visual Illusion in the Real World

Sunday, May 19, 2:00 pm, St. Petersburg Main Library, St. Petersburg, Florida

Visual illusions have long perplexed vision scientists and delighted the general public for many years.  Most of these illusions are artificially created in the laboratory and while the underlying visual processes that give rise to some illusions are well-understood by scientists, many challenge our existing theories.  However visual illusions are not the exclusive reserve of lab-based scientists, indeed we can encounter many of these effects in our everyday lives.  This talk will illustrate some of the occasions where what our eyes see conflicts with what we know to be true, even in the ‘real’ world.

Attending the Public Lecture

Admission to the Public Lecture is free. The lecture will be held on Sunday, May 19 at 2:00 pm at the St. Petersburg Main Library, 3745 9th Avenue, N. St. Petersburg, FL 33713. The library is a seven mile drive from the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort (see directions).

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

2017 Public Lecture – Nancy Kanwisher

Nancy Kanwisher

MIT

Nancy Kanwisher received her B.S. and Ph.D. from MIT working with Molly Potter. After a postdoc as a MacArthur Fellow in Peace and International Security, and a second postdoc in the lab of Anne Treisman at UC Berkeley, she held faculty positions at UCLA and then Harvard, before returning to MIT in 1997, where she is now an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, a faculty member in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, and a member of the Center for Minds, Brains, and Machines. Kanwisher’s work uses brain imaging to discover the functional organization of the human brain as a window into the architecture of the mind. Kanwisher has received the Troland Award, the Golden Brain Award, and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow teaching Award from MIT, and she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. You can view her short lectures about human cognitive neuroscience for lay audiences here: http://nancysbraintalks.mit.edu

Functional Imaging of the Human Brain as a Window into the Mind

Saturday, May 20, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida

Twenty-five years ago with the invention fMRI it became possible to image neural activity in the normal human brain. This remarkable tool has given us a striking new picture of the human brain, in which many regions have been shown to carry out highly specific mental functions, like the perception of faces, speech sounds, and music, and even very abstract mental functions like understanding a sentence or thinking about another person’s thoughts. These discoveries show that human minds and brains are not single general-purpose devices, but are instead made up of numerous distinct processors, each carrying out different functions. I’ll discuss some of the evidence for highly specialized brain regions, and what we know about each. I’ll also consider the tantalizing unanswered questions we are trying to tackle now: What other specialized brain regions do we have?  What are the connections between these each of these specialized regions and the rest of the brain? How do these regions develop over infancy and childhood?  How do these regions work together to produce uniquely human intelligence?

Attending the Public Lecture

The lecture is free to the public with admission to the museum. Museum members are free; Adults $17; Seniors 65 and older $15; Military with Id $15; College Students $10; Students 7-18 $10; Children 6 and under are free. VSS attendees will receive free admission to the Museum by showing your meeting badge.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

2010 Public Lecture – Allison Sekuler

Allison Sekuler

McMaster University

Allison Sekuler is Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, and Associate Vice-President and Dean of Graduate Studies at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. She received her B.A. with a joint degree in Mathematics and Psychology from Pomona College, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. An outstanding teacher and internationally-recognized researcher, Dr. Sekuler has been recognized as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow and an Ontario Distinguished Researcher, and she was named one of Canada’s “Leaders of Tomorrow” in 2004. Her primary areas of research are vision science and cognitive neuroscience. Prof. Sekuler has served on numerous national and international boards in support of science, and is a former Treasurer and Member of the Board of Directors for the Vision Sciences Society. She is a passionate advocate for science outreach, frequently appearing in the media to discuss scientific issues, and currently representing the scientific community on the national Steering Committee for the Science Media Centre of Canada.

Vision and the Amazing, Changing, Aging Brain

Saturday, May 8, 2010, 10:00 – 11:30 am, Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University

The “greying population” is the fastest growing group in North America. We know relatively little, however, about how aging affects critical functions such as vision and neural processing. For a long time, it was assumed that once we passed a certain age, the brain was essentially fixed, and could only deteriorate. But recent research shows that although aging leads to declines in some abilities, other abilities are spared and may even improve. This lecture will discuss the trade-offs in visual and neural processing that occur with age, and provide evidence that we really can teach older brains new tricks.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

Jointly sponsored by VSS and the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University.

2011 Public Lecture – Jeremy Wolfe

Jeremy Wolfe

Harvard Medical School

Jeremy Wolfe became interested in visual perception during the course of a summer job at Bell Labs in New Jersey after his senior year in high school. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1977 with a degree in Psychology and went on to obtain his PhD in 1981 from MIT, studying with Richard Held. His PhD thesis was entitled “On Binocular Single Vision”. Wolfe remained at MIT as a lecture, assistant professor, and associate professor until 1991. During that period, he published papers on binocular rivalry, visual aftereffects, and accommodation. In the late 1980s, the focus of the lab shifted to visual attention. Since that time, he has published numerous articles on visual search and visual attention. He is, perhaps, best known for the development of the Guided Search theory of visual search. In 1991, Wolfe moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is Director of the Visual Attention Lab and of the Radiology Department’s Center for Advanced Medical Imaging. He is Professor of Ophthalmology and Radiology at Harvard Medical School.

At present, the Visual Attention Lab works on basic problems in visual attention and their application to such problems as airport security and medical screening. The lab is funded by the US National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, and Department of Homeland Security. The Center for Advanced Medical Imaging is devoted to understanding and improving the consumption of images in clinical radiology.

Wolfe has taught Introductory Psychology, Psychology and Literature, and Sensation and Perception at MIT & Harvard and other universities. He is the Editor of the journal, Attention, Perception and Psychophysics (AP&P, formerly P&P). Wolfe is Past-President of the Eastern Psychological Association and President of Division 3 of the American Psychological Association. He is chair of the Soldier Systems Panel of the Army Research Lab Technical Assessment Board (NRC). He won the Baker Memorial Prize for teaching at MIT in 1989. He is a fellow of the American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association (Div. 3 & 6), the American Psychological Society, and a member of the Society for Experimental Psychologists. He lives in Newton, Mass. with his wife, Julie Sandell (Professor of Neuroanatomy and Assoc. Provost at Boston U.). has three sons (Benjamin – 24, Philip – 22, and Simon – 15), a cat, two snakes, and occasional mice.

The Salami at the Airport: Visual Search Gets Real

Saturday, May 7, 2011, 10:00 – 11:30 am, Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University

We are built to search. Our ancestors foraged for food. We search for pens, keys, and cars in parking lots. Some searches are hard and important: think about the search for cancer in x-rays or security threats in luggage. We are remarkably good at search. How do you mange to find the cornstarch in the cupboard? However, we are not as good as we would like to be. How could you miss something (like a gun or a tumor) that is, literally, right in front of your eyes? How might we reduce errors in socially important search tasks?

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

Jointly sponsored by VSS and the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University.

2012 Public Lecture – Terri Lewis

Terri Lewis

McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario

Terri Lewis is a professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, with appointments in Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto and at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Dr. Lewis is a world-renowned expert in babies’ vision, and is part of an international think tank on new approaches to improving poor vision in adults. She received her BA at the University of Toronto and her PhD at McMaster University, and has been invited to lecture about her work around the world. She has more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals and more than 200 presentations at scientific meetings. She is known for her lively and clear presentation style, and is frequently featured in the international media, including The New York Times and PBS television.

What Babies See

Saturday, May 12, 2012, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University

When a newborn baby looks at her mother’s or grandmother’s face for the first time, what does she see? For a long time, people assumed that babies were blind at birth, seeing nothing more than vague shadows. But that assumption was based only on the knowledge that the newborn’s eyes and brain are very immature. In fact, babies can see much more than you might think. This lecture will describe how we can “ask” babies what they see, and how, by creating special “eye charts” for babies, we have discovered the finest detail that they can see, how well they can see color and motion, and even the age at which they might recognize their parents (and grandparents). I will dispel the myths, describe the facts, and uncover the surprises surrounding the amazing visual world of babies.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

Jointly sponsored by VSS and the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University.

2013 Public Lecture – David J. Lewkowicz

David J. Lewkowicz

Florida Atlantic University

David J. Lewkowicz is an internationally renowned authority on infant perceptual and cognitive development. He is currently Professor of Psychology at Florida Atlantic University and a past President of the International Society on Infant Studies.

Poster graphics created by Guilluame Doucet, McGill University.

Perceptual Expertise Begins in Infancy

Saturday, May 11, 2013, 10:00 – 11:30 am, Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University

Contrary to conventional wisdom, infants are not passive, naïve observers. Aided by prenatally acquired perceptual abilities, starting at birth infants begin to interact with their world. As they grow, they rapidly learn about the faces, voices, speech, and language in their native environment. By their first birthday, infants become perceptual experts but, paradoxically, only for native faces, voices, speech, and language. This talk will show how the knowledge that we acquire as infants not only facilitates but also hinders our interactions with our world for the rest of our lives.
The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

Jointly sponsored by VSS and the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University.

2015 Public Lecture – Cancelled

The 2015 Public Lecture was cancelled. The 2015 lecture will be given at the 2016 meeting.

About the VSS Public Lecture

The annual public lecture represents the mission and commitment of the Vision Sciences Society to promote progress in understanding vision, and its relation to cognition, action and the brain. Education is basic to our science, and as scientists we are obliged to communicate the results of our work, not only to our professional colleagues but to the broader public. This lecture is part of our effort to give back to the community that supports us.

Vision Sciences Society