College of Letters & Science l Department of Psychology
Emily J. Ward is an Assistant Professor at UW–Madison, where she directs the Visual Cognition Laboratory. She is broadly interested in understanding the scope and limits of visual perception, with an emphasis on how we can better understand the nature of our consciousness experience by understanding what we see and fail to see.
Cognitive neuroscience is uncovering answers to fundamental questions about visual processing, and also revealing rich ways that perception interacts with the rest of the mind, such as helping us see patterns, causality, and animacy.
It is tempting to think that we see the world as it really is. But in fact, we often perceive things that don’t actually exist, while often failing to perceive what is plainly in sight. What causes us to fail to perceive salient events in the environment?
New technologies in cognitive neuroscience use patterns of brain activity to make a prediction about what a person is currently experiencing. How does this technology work? By discussing state-of-the-art research, I will explain the applications and potential of “brain reading” technology, and also explain what it can and cannot accomplish.