David Whitney

As an undergraduate, I majored in Economics, Philosophy, and Psychology. Although these are a seemingly disparate or even random set of fields, they are coherently bound together. All of these fields overlap in the sense that they all depend intimately on human perception. Economic choices depend, at the most fundamental level, on human perception and perceptual decisions. Similarly, the basis of many areas of philosophy is human perception. Psychology is the study of the mind, and all higher psychological and cognitive functions depend first on perception. Once I appreciated that perception was at the heart of my interests, I was hooked. I pursued perception science in graduate school. I received a Master’s and PhD from Harvard University in Psychology, specializing in Vision Science. Later, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Western Ontario and then joined the faculty at UC Davis before moving to UC Berkeley in 2010 as professor. My lab and I are broadly interested in perception science. What is "perception science"? Perception science is the investigation of "why we see what we see". What are the cognitive and neural mechanisms that make us experience the world as we do? I am broadly interested in a variety of topics in perception, including visual and visuomotor localization, motion perception, object recognition, perceptual and motor crowding, and visual impairments. In my lab, we use a variety of techniques, including psychophysics, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). One of my goals as a teacher is to show my students that perception science is all around them and relevant to every field, career, and avocation; they only have to look or listen.

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