Benoit-Antoine Bacon is a professor of psychology/neuroscience and he is currently serving a 5-year term as provost and vice-principal (academic) at Queen’s. He was previously provost at Concordia University in his hometown of Montreal. His first academic appointment was at Bishop’s University, where he served as dean of arts and science and associate vice-principal research. He also sang tenor in the Bishop’s University Choir. He holds a PhD in neuropsychology from the University of Montreal. His research in the field of cognitive neuroscience focuses on the links between brain activity and perception in the visual and auditory systems.
I saw it with my own brain: elaborating our perception of “reality”
We really see the world with our brains, not with our eyes, and the brain has a ‘mind of its own’. The process of visual perception appears simple and direct because we open our eyes and the world is immediately perceived as clear and fully formed, but it is in fact very much complex and indirect. Visual illusions are interesting because they reveal these complex processes and ‘rules of thumb’ that the brain uses to interpret the inherently ambiguous nature of visual information. As we look through a series of visual stimuli, we will realize that what we see is not really the world as it is, but rather the interpretation that our brain has built based on input from the eyes, and that this interpretation is meant to be ‘useful’ rather than accurate. An attempt will be made to link these demonstrations with the need to always look at reality with a critical eye, pun intended, and to cultivate healthy rational skepticism.