A radically new perspective on human vision is emerging.
Groundbreaking research by evolutionary scientist and neurobiologist Mark Changizi is driving a revolution in our understanding of human vision. In asking why we see the way we do, Changizi overturns existing beliefs and provides new answers to age-old questions.
Why do our eyes face forward? While binocular vision was helpful to our primate ancestors, its importance for 3-D vision is exaggerated. Squirrels jump from branch to branch just fine with sideways-facing eyes and many athletes, including Hockey Hall of Famer Frank McGee, play with only one eye. HINT: We evolved in a highly leafy environment.
Why do we see in color, when most other mammals do not? It’s not because it helped our ancestors find ripe fruit. Our color vision has evolved to be extremely sensitive to specific sets of color changes. HINT: Primates with color vision, like us, are the only ones who have areas of bare skin.
Why do we see optical illusions? It’s not the result of glitches in our visual system. Optical illusions can be traced back to the same specific property of vision. HINT: We are able to catch a ball coming at us much more effectively than we should given the speed at which our brains process visual input.
Why do we absorb information so readily by reading? It’s not because we’ve evolved to read; evolutionarily, reading and writing are recent developments. HINT: Language is designed to exploit skills we’ve refined over tens of millions of years.
In The Vision Revolution, Changizi details the conclusions of his innovative fieldwork and their mind-blowing implications for our understanding not just of human vision, but of the way we interact with the world in which we live.
About the Author
Mark Changizi is an assistant professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research areas tend to concern the evolutionary function and design principles governing complex behaviors, perceptions and organisms. His first book appeared in 2003 with Kluwer, an academic monograph called The Brain from 25,000 Feet: High Level Explorations of Brain Complexity, Perception, Induction and Vagueness (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht). He is the first author on 25 journal articles in diverse topics and Dr. Changizi’s research has been written up in more than 75 magazines and newspapers worldwide, including Time Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, Discover Magazine, New Scientist (twice), Financial Times, Daily Telegraph (twice), Scientific American, The Times of London, Natural History Magazine, Reuters, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, Gehirn & Geist Magazine, Bild der Wissenschaft (twice), Der Standard, Rhein Zeitung, Die Presse, Die Welt, De Morgen, Suddeutsche Zeitung, NRC Handelsblad, Internet Haber, Spiegel and Arzte Zeitung. He has also appeared as a guest on the CBC News “As It Happens” radio show.