Cutting Edge Lecture: The neuroscience of looking and seeing
By Christopher Pack (Associate Professor, Neurology & Neurosurgery at McGill and a Canada Research Chair in Visual Neurophysiology)
Vision, according to Aristotle, is the ability to know what is where by looking. Indeed we gain a great deal of information about our surroundings by simply opening our eyes; within milliseconds we can recognize faces, places, words, and buildings. But between the moment when the light first reaches the eye and the moment when recognition takes place, some thirty different brain regions have contributed to the extraction of information about the shapes, colors, depths, textures, and velocities of each object in view. The result of all this processing is then relayed to brain regions responsible for retrieving memories, making decisions, and programming actions. How does the brain transform light into conscious visual perception? This lecture will discuss recent (and not so recent) theoretical and empirical work that characterizes how single neurons, organized into dedicated circuits, support our ability to see.
Dr. Pack has been an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and an EJLB Scholar; he recently won the Promising Young Investigator Award from the Montreal Neurological Institute.
PHOTO of Dr. Pack: By Martine Doyon, with permission. This image is part of an exhibit called Neuro Portrait: The Brain Inspires Us.