Brain and the Gaze
On the Active Boundaries of Vision
312 pp., 7 x 9 in, 49 b&w illus.
- Published: August 31, 2012
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A radically integrative account of visual perception, grounded in neuroscience but drawing on insights from philosophy and psychology.
How do we gain access to things as they are? Although we routinely take our self-made pictures to be veridical representations of reality, in actuality we choose (albeit unwittingly) or construct what we see. By movements of the eyes, the direction of our gaze, we create meaning. In Brain and the Gaze, Jan Lauwereyns offers a novel reformulation of perception and its neural underpinnings, focusing on the active nature of perception.
In his investigation of active perception and its brain mechanisms, Lauwereyns offers the gaze as the principal paradigm for perception. In a radically integrative account, grounded in neuroscience but drawing on insights from philosophy and psychology, he discusses the dynamic and constrained nature of perception; the complex information processing at the level of the retina; the active nature of vision; the intensive nature of representations; the gaze of others as visual stimulus; and the intentionality of vision and consciousness. An engaging point of entry to the cognitive neuroscience of perception, written for neuroscientists but illuminated by insights from thinkers ranging from William James to Slavoj Žižek, Brain and the Gaze will give new impetus to research and theory in the field.
In this wonderful and unique work, neuroscientist and poet Jan Lauwereyns explores the delicate weave of perception, thought, and action. Using roving gaze as a recurrent fixation point, Lauwereyns' scan covers not just neuroscience but large swathes of work on phenomenology and embodied cognition. The tone is appreciative throughout but the critical bite, when it comes, remains properly severe. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the science, art, and philosophy of perception.
Andy Clark FRSE, Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, University of Edinburgh; author of Supersizing the Mind
Brain and the Gaze offers a trove of richly suggestive research and insight into the nature of 'active perception' and the creative imagination. Jan Lauwereyns is foremost, of course, a neuroscientist, residing at the frontiers of his discipline. However, his depth of understanding of contemporary philosophy (phenomenology in particular) and poetic practice has led to a work that should appeal as well to a diverse, artistically oriented audience.
Michael Palmer, author of Thread
Brain and the Gaze is a poetic framework of philosophical and psychological insights into cutting-edge neuroscience. I strongly recommend this book to those who are starving for a big picture of perceptual awareness that is not only scientifically accurate, but also elegant and spiritually satisfying.
Shinsuke Shimojo, Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology, California Institute of Technology
This is an illuminating and very much needed contribution that will set the benchmark for the neuroscientific study of perceptual experience for the next few years. A must read for cognitive scientists, philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, and more generally, for all those who are interested in understanding the delicate weave of perception and its relationship with brain, body, and action.
Biology and Philosophy