We Know It When We See It: What the Neurobiology of Vision Tells Us About How We Think

We Know It When We See It: What the Neurobiology of Vision Tells Us About How We Think

by Richard Masland


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A Harvard researcher investigates the human eye in this insightful account of what vision reveals about intelligence, learning, and the greatest mysteries of neuroscience.

Spotting a face in a crowd is so easy, you take it for granted. But how you do it is one of science's great mysteries. And vision is involved with so much of everything your brain does. Explaining how it works reveals more than just how you see. In We Know It When We See It, Harvard neuroscientist Richard Masland tackles vital questions about how the brain processes information — how it perceives, learns, and remembers — through a careful study of the inner life of the eye.

Covering everything from what happens when light hits your retina, to the increasingly sophisticated nerve nets that turn that light into knowledge, to what a computer algorithm must be able to do before it can be called truly "intelligent," We Know It When We See It is a profound yet approachable investigation into how our bodies make sense of the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541618503
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 03/10/2020
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 761,567
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Richard Masland is the David Glendenning Cogan distinguished professor of ophthalmology and professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. For many years he was director for research in ophthalmology at Harvard's Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, the world's largest vision research institute. He is a fellow of the AAAS, a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and a recipient of the Proctor Medal and Alcon Research Award, among others. Masland has made groundbreaking contributions to the study of neural networks and to the reversal of blindness. He divides his time between Boston, Massachusetts and Frenchtown, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I The First Steps Toward Vision 5

1 The Wonder of Perception 7

2 Neurons That Sing to the Brain 11

3 A Microprocessor in the Eye 35

4 Ghost Neurons 55

5 What the Eye Tells the Brain 77

Part II Into the Wild 87

6 Sensory Messages Enter the Brain 89

7 What Happens Next: Not One Cortex but Many 105

8 The Malleable Senses 117

9 Inventing the Nerve Net: Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together 129

10 Machine Learning, Brains, and Seeing Computers 151

11 Vision of Vision 171

Part III To the Horizon 185

12 Why Evolution Loved Nerve Nets 187

13 Some Mysteries, Some Progress 193

14 In the Distance 207

Glossary 217

Acknowledgments 221

Figure Credits 223

Notes 225

Bibliography 233

Index 251

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