Visual Neuroscientist Susana Martinez-Conde to Talk on 'Neuromagic' at Brookhaven Lab, 10/23

Susana Martinez-Conde enlarge

Susana Martinez-Conde

UPTON, NY — Susana Martinez-Conde, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience, SUNY Down State Medical Center, will give a talk at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 4:30 p.m., in the Physics Department Large Conference Room, Building 510A. Sponsored by Brookhaven Women in Science, the event is free and open to the public. All visitors to the Laboratory 16 and older must bring a photo I.D. 

Susana Martinez-Conde is the co-founder of an exciting new discipline: neuromagic. The implications of neuromagic — as this emerging research field is being called — go beyond illuminating our behavior; early research points to new approaches from the diagnosis of autism to marketing techniques and education.

In her talk titled "Sleights of Mind" she will talk about her worldwide studies exploring magic and how its principles apply to our behavior. Illusions are perceptual experiences that do not match physical reality. The study of illusions is critical to understanding the basic brain mechanisms of sensory perception, as well as to curing various neural diseases. Martinez-Conde will discuss how the theory and practice used by magicians and illusionists can contribute to the investigation of the brain's powers of observation. Magic tricks can be cognitive illusions that fool the hardwired processes of attention and awareness in the human brain. The illusion community studying these techniques includes visual scientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, painters, mathematicians and graphic designers — all of whom may use a variety of methods to unveil the underpinnings of illusory perception. 

At the Martinez-Conde Lab, researchers try to gain a better understanding of the neural bases of visual experiences, i.e., how can the electrical activity of a neuron, or a neuronal population, convey the color or brightness of an object? How can we determine the signal from the noise in a train of electrical impulses within a neuron? What type of neural code do neurons use to communicate information to each other? How are neural impulses grouped to represent the different features of a visual scene? To address these questions, and more, Martinez-Conde and her team use a combination of techniques, including fMRI, electrophysiological recordings from single neurons, and psychophysical measurements.

Susana Martinez-Conde completed her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain in 1996, followed by postdoctoral studies in the Harvard Medical School laboratory of Nobel Laureate David Hubel. Her research on the neurobiology of visual awareness, perception, illusions, and art has been published in top academic journals and popular science magazines, including Scientific American. She has given lectures to arts organizations and museums and was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Discover Magazine, and Nature.

For more information on Martinez-Conde:

Call (631) 344-2345 for more information.

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