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July 15, 2009


Todd I. Stark

Two thoughts on the Tom Wujec presentation:

(1) The psychologically oriented part was very good, indicating and illustrating how we make meaning visually. (And I think he's a good speaker).

(2) For me personally, the neuroscience part was almost gratuitous. Mentioning a couple of brain areas and then adding somewhat arbitrarily chosen recent theories of their role in visual processing didn't add anything to the talk for me. There's a lot more going on in visual processing than he describes that is relevant to meaning-making, and the what/where stream theory is not by any means even universally accepted much less adding substantially to the psychological points made in the presentation. His neuroscience was for me more distracting from his more interesting points than it was helpful.

The real point I got out of this is that visual processing is interactive and that meaning is constructive, so the process of sharing visually compelling models facilitates mutual comprehension.

Fancy pictures of brains seem to be the modern equivalent of the ubiquitous white lab coat from old TV commercials. It serves as an artificially concocted signal of technical credibility. Yes, we know it has everything to do with the technical wonders that the brain does, but we shouldn't stick in arbitrary technical neuroscience details unless they really add to our understanding of the key points of the presentation.

Ed Batista

Great stuff, Stephanie--thanks!

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