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Release: Oct 16, 2000

UI professor to demonstrate visual limitations during Oct. 21 presentation

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Even "detail oriented" people don't see everything. The human eye receives about a gigabyte of data per second -- far more information than the brain can process. In his presentation, "Eye, Brain, and Mind," Steven Luck, a University of Iowa associate professor of psychology, will demonstrate just how little we see of the world around us. Luck will speak on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall.

The program, part of the UI College of Liberal Arts "Saturday Scholars" series, is free and open to the public. In a preview to his presentation, Luck will be a guest on "Iowa Talks," on WSUI (AM-910) on Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m.

Using a variety of audio-visual tools, Luck will show how easily we can miss what seem like major details in a visual image. "Vision is incredibly difficult," he said. "We have a huge amount of brain power devoted to it, but we're still limited in the amount we can take in. We miss a lot even though it seems like we see everything."

Luck will also discuss how the brain avoids being overloaded by the surplus of information provided by our eyes. Specifically, we use attention to focus our processing resources on a tiny fraction of the incoming visual information and then shift attention when we need to focus on a different object. Interestingly, those things we choose not to focus attention on are still taken in visually and can influence our behavior without our knowing it.

Luck joined the UI College of Liberal Arts faculty in 1994. His area of research is cognitive neuroscience, with an emphasis on the neural and cognitive mechanisms of attention, perception, and memory. He has conducted research at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center and at the National Institutes of Health. He has written more than 50 scientific articles and book chapters and has served or is serving on the editorial boards of five major scientific journals. His research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Human Frontier Science Program, and the McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience. In 1998, he won the American Psychological Association Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the Area of Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience.

"Saturday Scholars," developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, gives members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by professors in the college. This is the final presentation in this year's series.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts in advance at 335-2610.