Seeing Through Illusions

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Oxford University Press, 2009 - Medical - 253 pages
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It looks so easy. Open your eyes, and immediately there is a world of objects in glorious Technicolour. It takes no time or effort - perception just happens. Or does it? Is it really that simple? As this book discusses, the more that has been discovered about the senses and the brain, the more we know that seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting depend on incredibly complicated physiology. Although we seem to experience objects quite directly this is not so: the brain still has towork out what is out there. It doesn't always guess right, then we have an illusion - striking and interesting happenings of the mind. This book is about the phenomena of perception. The first chapter covers the evolution of the sense organs, including Darwin's initial reluctance to accept that natural selection could have 'designed' structures as complicated as eyes or other sense organs. Chapter 2 explains how perception actually works, and in particular how the brain interprets perceptual information. Chapter 3 focuses on the phenomena of illusions as keys for unlocking secrets of perception. The final chapter looks at the special case of pictures such as drawings and painting and how the brain interprets them as representing objects. This is an intriguing and engaging account of how we perceive the world around us.

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About the author (2009)

Richard Gregory is Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol. He is editor of the Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987), and his other books include Mirrors in Mind (1997), Eye and Brain (5th edn., 1997), the collection of essays Even Odder Perceptions (1993), and Evolution of the Eye and Visual System (1992). He was founder and president of the Exploratory, the first hands-on science centre in Britain, and 'godfather' of the Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome.

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