LOUISVILLE, Ky., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A scientist who helped
explain how our brains build meaningful images from the bits of information we
see has won the 2009
Anne Treisman, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor
of psychology at
Treisman, a cognitive psychologist, proposed in 1980 that attention acts as an inner spotlight in the brain, rapidly scanning features such as color, shape, distance and motion and linking them into an integrated whole. Her theory of feature integration prompted a wide range of study that continues today, award judges said.
Scientists are still using the concept to help airport baggage inspectors detect weapons, to design classrooms that stimulate children without overloading them and to make it easier for people to tell pills apart, said Woody Petry, a UofL professor of psychological and brain sciences who directs the award.
"Her theory explains why we see a red sports car driving by instead of an assortment of different features such as the color red, a shape in motion and so on," Petry said.
Work by Treisman and her colleagues also has led to better understanding of some psychological and medical problems such as Balints' syndrome, in which people cannot recognize more than one object at a time.
Before joining Princeton, Treisman was a psychology professor at
The Grawemeyer Foundation at
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