Seeing Colour in a Contemporary Light – lecture by Professor Anya Hurlbert

@ Life Science Centre

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11 October 2016

6pm - 7pm

£3 - £5, 30% discount for Annual Pass holders

Lecture by Anya Hurlbert, Professor of Visual Neuroscience and Director of the Centre for Translational Systems Neuroscience at Newcastle University.

Professor Hurlbert explores how we perceive colours, not as physical things, but resulting from perceptual processes in the eye and the brain.

Colour pervades the world, both inside and outside, made by man and nature. Colour tells people whether fruit is ripe, which car is theirs, and what season it is. Yet although colours signify many things, colours are not physical things, but the result of perceptual processes that start in the eye and continue in the brain.

The subjectivity of colour was brought home to millions of people with #thedress, the internet phenomenon of spring 2015. In fact, the variability of reported colours elicited by #thedress demonstrates the power of colour constancy, a fundamental phenomenon of normal colour vision, which operates to stabilise object colours across the wide changes in illumination spectrum to which we are daily exposed.

In this talk, Anya will illustrate the limits of colour constancy by describing experiments using tuneable multi-channel LED light sources, carried out both in the lab and in public installations. These and other experiments also highlight the fact that the colours we see, and the constancy with which we see them, must evolve along with new technology that enables new and ever-changing illuminations.

Anya Hurlbert is Professor of Visual Neuroscience and Director of the Centre for Translational Systems Neuroscience at Newcastle University. She trained as a physicist (BA 1980, Physics, Princeton University), physiologist (MA 1982, Cambridge University), neuroscientist (PhD 1989, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT), and physician (MD 1990, Harvard Medical School). Her main research interest is in understanding the human brain, through understanding the human visual system. She focusses on colour vision and its role in everyday visual and cognitive tasks, in normal development and ageing as well as in developmental disorders such as autism. She has particular research interests also in applied areas such as digital imaging and novel lighting technologies. One of her current research projects (HI-LED), funded by the EU FP7 programme, aims to understand how novel lighting technology may be used to optimise human health and performance. In 2004, she co-founded the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle; one of the UK’s foremost academic units focussed on neurosciences, uniting clinicians and basic scientists, and was Institute Director until 2014. Professor Hurlbert is active in the public understanding of science, and has devised and co-curated several science-based art exhibitions, most recently an interactive installation (a film, lighting demonstration and mass public experiment) at the National Gallery, London, for its 2014 summer exhibition. She lectures widely on colour perception and art, and contributes to media programmes on visual perception. She is past Chairman of the Colour Group (GB) and currently Scientist Trustee of the National Gallery.

For ages 14+

Part of the Brain Zone series of events and activities devised to celebrate the opening of the new Brain Zone at Life Science Centre. The Brain Zone is supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Life Science Centre
Times Square
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear

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