VISTA and Centre for Vision Research kick off the year with a lecture and awards presentation

The VISTA Awards recipients pose for a group photo with faculty and researchers from the Centre for Vision Research at York University. From left: Professor Laurence Harris, director of the CVR; Distinguished Research Professor Doug Crawford, scientific director of VISTA; and Jennifer Teague, VISTA program director, with the VISTA Graduate and Postdoctoral Award recipients.
The York Centre for Vision Research (CVR) launched the academic year and its 2017-18 Seminar Series with an intriguing lecture and the presentation of the inaugural VISTA graduate student and postdoctoral awards and the Ian P. Howard Family Foundation Scholarship.

The event, which took place on Friday, Oct. 6, enjoyed a capacity crowd for both the lecture and award presentation.

photo of Senior Research Fellow and VISTA Visiting Scholar Patrick Cavanagh gesturing to a slide during his lecture about the connection between art and neuroscience

Senior Research Fellow and VISTA Visiting Scholar Patrick Cavanagh gestures to a slide during his lecture about the connection between art and neuroscience

Senior Research Fellow and VISTA Visiting Scholar Patrick Cavanagh delivered his first public lecture since joining the University on July 1. In his talk titled “The Artist as Neuroscientist” Cavanagh offered an intriguing look into the unique connection between art and neuroscientist.

Art can trigger many emotions and impressions, and most are just as the artist intended. The same painting, said Cavanagh, may also reveal, unintentionally, a great deal about the workings of the brain, including how the brain recovers the light, space and surfaces that we see. These are privileged insights not available from studying vision with natural scenes or photographs and depend on undetected errors in representation.

Over the course of an hour, Cavanagh took the audience — composed of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, VISTA staff members and family members of the late Ian P. Howard — through a tour of the world’s great works of art to show the intimacy of the connection between art and neuroscience.

Painters, said Cavanagh, often stray from photorealistic styles, taking liberties with the rules of physics to achieve a more effective painting. Some of these liberties, he highlighted, include impossible shadows, shapes or reflections that go unnoticed by the viewers. The undetected errors are the ones that tell us which rules of physics actually count for visual perception. As artists find the rules they can break without penalty, they act as research neuroscientists and those viewing the art have to only look at their paintings to uncover and appreciate these discoveries.

Following his talk, VISTA Scientific Director and Distinguished Research Professor Doug Crawford, who is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Visual-Motor Neuroscience, presented the inaugural VISTA graduate student and postdoctoral awards. Centre for Vision Research Director and Professor Laurence Harris presented the Ian P. Howard Family Foundation Scholarship.

photo of John Jong-Jin Kim with Toni Howard (centre) and York Professor Laurence Harris, director of the CVR (right)

John Jong-Jin Kim with Toni Howard (centre) and York Professor Laurence Harris, director of the CVR (right)

The recipients of the VISTA Graduate and Postdoctoral Award recipients are:

Masters students
John Jong-Jin Kim (Psychology)
Maryam Taheri-Shirazi (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science [EECS])
Abbas Masoumzadeh-Tork (EECS)
Sohrab Salimian (Biology)

Doctoral students
Katherine Newman (Psychology)
Gifty Asare (Psychology)
Jennifer Ruttle (Kinesiology)
He Zhao (EECS)
Robert Codd-Downey (EECS)

Postdoctoral Fellows
Krista Ehinger (Psychology)
Zhongxu Liu (Psychology)
Abhijith Punnappurath (EECS)

The VISTA Awards recipients pose for a group photo with faculty and researchers from the Centre for Vision Research at York University. From left: Professor Laurence Harris, director of the CVR; Distinguished Research Professor Doug Crawford, scientific director of VISTA; and Jennifer Teague, VISTA program director, with the VISTA Graduate and Postdoctoral Award recipients.

The VISTA Awards recipients pose for a group photo with faculty and researchers from the Centre for Vision Research at York University. From left: Professor Laurence Harris, director of the CVR; Distinguished Research Professor Doug Crawford, scientific director of VISTA; and Jennifer Teague, VISTA program director, with the VISTA Graduate and Postdoctoral Award recipients.

The Ian P. Howard Family Foundation Scholarship was presented to John Jong-Jin Kim (who was also a recipient of a VISTA Award in the Masters category) by Faculty of Health Professor Laurence Harris, director of the CVR, and Toni Howard, widow of Ian P. Howard. Named in honour of Ian P. Howard who was a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Health, and contributed to the development of the Department of Psychology and, in 1992 founded the York University Vision Group, which would later become the Centre for Vision Research (CVR). Howard died in 2013 and the scholarship was established in his memory and celebrates excellence in the area of vision science.

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