The Science of Perception

By Chris Fields, Susana Martinez-Conde, and Donald Hoffman

Perception may be defined not only as how we experience the world through our senses, but also how we interpret those experiences to create meaning and provide a practically useful model of reality. Perception, then, is essentially a subjective activity within consciousness, the combined result of bottom-up sensory stimuli and top-down cognitive interpretation. In the early 20th century, Heisenberg and Schrödinger, two pioneers of quantum physics, shook the world of science by challenging the notion of a fixed external reality, replacing it with a universe of uncertainty described by a waveform that "collapses" to a single reality upon observation. Decades later, their challenge to the classical model of reality still strikes at the core of what it means to be human and raises several important issues: Is there something called objective reality that lies beyond our perception, or does the world just "seem" to be out there? How does neuroscience help us make sense of what we perceive? And, most intriguingly, are we getting any wiser about all this or is the universe simply getting more mysterious? This panel brings together leading neuroscientists in what promises to be an illuminating discussion that goes to the heart of reality itself!

Related Content