seeing the brain from the inside

Shoreditch Town Hall, 16 June 2014

Dr Dominic ffythce |   Mat Chivers | Rob Davis

We trust our eyes. We look around and accept what we see at the world around us, even if knowing the experience is only a deception – a model of visual reality constructed by our brains. The compelling nature of deception relies on its apparent effortlessness, immediacy and hiding from the view the immense computation, interpolation, guess-work, prediction and abstraction underlying every second of visual experience. Yet the visual brain can go wrong and in so doing creates a visual reality that bears little resemblance to the real world. We call these brain glitches, visual hallucinations, or other related terms, and whether they occur in an entirely normal brain or as a consequence of pathological brain changes, they offer a glimpse into the inner workings of vision. At their paradoxical extreme, hallucinations even show us anatomical features of our brains as seen from within. This talk will describe a range of such experiences and what they tell us.

Dr Dominic ffytche is a Senior Lecturer and Consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London and has recently completed a Wellcome Clinician Scientist Fellowship. He has a special interest in visual persception and its pathollogies and runs a Visual Perceptual Disorders Clinic at the Maudsley Hospital. Dr ffytche received a Bsc in Psychology/Basic Medical, an MBBS in Pathology Sciences and an MD (Thesis: The functional anatomy of visual hallucination content: insights from the Charles Bonnet Syndrome) from the University of London. He has exhibited a rich writing work with more than 64 publications in journals such as: Neuroimage, Neuropsychopharmacology, Brain Cortex, Schizophrenia Research, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Psychiatry Research, International Psychogeriatrics, Journal of Neuro-Opthalmology, Current Opinion in Neurology, Nature, Behavioural Neuroscience, British Journal of Ophtalmology, Annals of Neurology, Psychological Medicine, Cognitive Brain Research, Neuroreport, European Journal Neuroscience, Psychological Medicine.

The work of British visual artist Mat Chivers looks at how the fundamental phenomena that exist below the surface of things inform the way we experience the world around us. The process of making draws on combinations of analogue and digital technologies in works that embody a hybridisation of old-world subjects and techniques with contemporary envisioning processes. His practice focuses at the location between data capture and its consequent interpretation in order to explore the ambiguous nature of perception. Mat Chivers has works in private and public collections nationally and internationally. He recently exhibited: at Kappatos Gallery, Athens (2013);  for 55th and 54th Venice Biennales, Italy (2013, 2011); The Courtauld Institute of Arts, London (2012); Maddox Arts, London (2011); at the Athens Biennial and the Historical Archives Museum, Greece (2013).

Rob Davis, with reference to cybernetic principals is interested in adaptive systems that complete, negotiate and interact with their environment and other information processing entities. Utilising continuous rather than discretely varying systems, such as analogue neural networks, he attempts to engineer collections of electromechanical entities with emergent properties, that tend to self-organise their behaviour over time, developing increasingly complex and subtle relationships with each other and their surroundings.