Matt J Dunn

Talk:  What we Miss
Our senses are optimised to provide awareness only about aspects of the world that are directly relevant to us as humans – we are blind to phenomena that are obvious to other animals, such as magnetic fields and the ultraviolet patterns that attract bees to wildflowers. Much of what we see is constructed from the limited fragments of information provided by our senses, backed up by our assumptions and previous experiences. Perceptual disorders resulting from brain damage show us how fragile the “mind’s eye” can be: people may lose the ability to see movement or colour, or even to recognise their own face in the mirror. Patients with apparently ‘perfect’ vision may no longer be able to recognise objects, or may be unable to see the left-hand-side of individual objects. There are blind people who can navigate through obstacles seemingly with intuition alone, and some who develop complex visual hallucinations after years without sight. This talk will use neurological case examples together with visual illusions to explain how our brains construct our everyday experience, and demonstrate that the world is not exactly as it appears.
Bio: Dr Matt J Dunn
Dr Dunn is a visual neuroscientist in the field of psychophysics, whose work aims to understand the mechanisms underlying perception in humans. He conducts scientific research in collaboration with laboratories around the world into visual and perceptual disorders. His public presentations provide a fascinating glimpse into the ways in which our brains make sense of the world around us by organising sensory information, and the ways in which these perceptual systems can break down.