27 Apr2017

Talk: Dr. Chaz Firestone

Seeing stability: Physical understanding is rooted in automatic visual processing
Speaker: Chaz Firestone (Department of Psychological and Brain Science, Johns Hopkins University
Date: 2017.04.27 (Thu.) 10:00-12:00
Location: Boardroom, 15F United Medical Building (Back Building) ,TMU


Abstract: Among our most impressive intellectual achievements is the ability to interpret the world in terms of underlying, unobservable physical forces. This physical understanding has historically been considered a paradigmatic case of sophisticated higher-level reasoning; however, this seems contrary to our everyday successes intuiting how objects will balance, slide, fall, bend or break. Here I will explore the possibility that such inferences (e.g. whether a tower of blocks will topple) are rooted in automatic visual processing, suggesting that appreciating how physical scenes will unfold works less like proving a theorem, and more like seeing color. I will report new evidence that physical scene understanding is fast, automatic, attention-grabbing, and so vivid that it can even create illusory motion — causing observers to see static precarious towers as actively falling. We can not only *think about* physical forces, but also *see* them.