December 7, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Bevil Conway, hosted by Anita Disney
conway headshot

Duke Neurobiology welcomes Bevil R. Conway, Ph.D., Senior Investigator at the National Eye Institute and chief of the Unit on Sensation, Cognition and Action. Dr. Conway will present "Color" live in 103 Bryan with a Zoom simulcast. Email for connection details.
ABSTRACT: Among mammals, excellent color vision has evolved only in certain non-human primates. And yet, color is often assumed to be just a low-level stimulus feature with a modest role in encoding and recognizing objects. The rationale for this dogma is compelling: object recognition is excellent in grayscale images (consider black-and-white movies, where faces, places, objects, and story are readily apparent). In my talk I will discuss experiments in which we used color as a tool to uncover an organizational plan in inferior temporal cortex (parallel, multistage processing for places, faces, colors, and objects) and a visual-stimulus functional representation in prefrontal cortex (PFC). The discovery of an extensive network of color-biased domains within IT and PFC, regions implicated in high-level object vision and executive functions, compels a re-evaluation of the role of color in behavior. I will discuss behavioral studies prompted by the neurobiology that uncover a universal principle for color categorization across languages, a systematic study of the color statistics of objects and a chromatic mechanism by which the brain may compute animacy, and a surprising paradoxical impact of memory on face color. Taken together, my talk will put forward the argument that color is not primarily for object recognition, but rather for the assessment of the likely behavioral relevance, or meaning, of the stuff we see.