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Blindspots: The Many Ways We Cannot See [Hardcover]

by Bruno Breitmeyer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 12, 2010 0195394267 978-0195394269 1
Sight can be so effortless, so useful, and so entertaining--the average human can distinguish several million colors; a falcon can see a fencepost from three thousand yards--that we never stop to think about how complex a process it is and how easily it can fail us. We never have as clear and complete a picture of the world around us as we think we do. The gaps between what our eyes take in and what is in our mind's eye provide the unifying theme in Bruno Breitmeyer's wide-ranging volume. In his fascinating account of the many ways that our eyes, and minds, both see and fail to see, Breitmeyer moves from cataracts and color blindness through blindsight, acquired dyslexia, and visual agnosias, including fascinating cases like the woman who did not know what she was seeing was a dog until it barked. He then uses what we've learned about the limits of our sight to illustrate the limits of our ability to mentally visualize and our ability to reason, covering everything from logical fallacies to how our motives and emotions relentlessly color the way we see the world. This book will intrigue anyone interested in how easily we can fail to capture the world around us without even realizing it.

Editorial Reviews


"Breitmeyer's Blindspots: The Many Ways We Cannot See is more than a book about deficits--it is also about vision itself, how it works and what it does for us. Visual processes are described accurately but at a level everyone can understand, always thrown into relief by real cases of visual deficits. Patients who see normally except that they cannot perceive color, or resolve motion, or recognize faces, or lack any of a dozen other aspects of vision, show us how complex the process really is, and how many separable pieces of neurological machinery contribute to what seems like a unified sense of seeing."
--Bruce Bridgeman, Professor of Psychology and Psychobiology, University of California, Santa Cruz

"In this book, rich in facts, anecdotes and illustrations, Bruno Breitmeyer explores vision in its literal as well as metaphoric senses and spans the field of visual cognition and beyond, pointing out how our everyday takes of the world in which we live are prone to perceptual, cognitive, cultural and personal blind spots. I read the amazing Blindspots in a single sitting."
--Michael Herzog, Professor of Psychophysics, Brain Mind Institute, École Polytechnique Féderalé de Lausanne

"From blindness due to diseases of the eye to blindspots due to cultural influences on visual perception, Breitmeyer weaves a fascinating story about how sensation, dreams, imagery, bias and emotion contribute to everyday perception and cognition. He brings vision sciences alive by referring to real life perceptual events, whether owing to the sudden appearance of something we did not expect or to changes from brain damage that create visual holes in perception. The journey interweaves philosophical, artistic and scientific accounts of the many ways we do and do not see."
--Lynn C. Robertson, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

"Bruno Breitmeyer is one of the world's leading vision scientists, and in this book he takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the visual system. If you have ever wondered what causes blindness, why eyes work the way they do, or why we often see so little of what's around us, this is your book."
--Daniel J. Simons, Department of Psychology and Beckman Institute, University of Illinois

"This slim volume is a heavyweight that comes along on nimble feet. It covers an enormous terrain, showing us on every page the worlds out there of which we are not aware. The overarching theme, the understanding of vision and perception from its varied deficits, ranges over the topics of attention, agnosias, imagination, language, thinking and art. Brilliantly written, enlightening and inspiring, richly illustrated and spiced with the author's own personal flair, this book is bound to be an instant classic. Breitmeyer has poured a life's worth of knowledge into it, at times reaching back into the far past. If ever there is a book that spells the death knell to naive realism, this is it. The book is heartily recommended to vision researchers, neuropsychologists, philosophers, and artists, who will be fascinated to learn how much we are missing in our daily environment and yet how well we get around."
--Lothar Spillmann, University Hospital, Neurozentrum, Freiburg, Germany

About the Author

Bruno Breitmeyer, Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston, studied mathematics at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and received his Ph D in experimental psychology from Stanford University. Over the past four decades his research has focused on the spatiotemporal dynamics of visual perception. He is an internationally acknowledged expert in the areas of visual masking and nonconscious visual processing.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (April 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195394267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195394269
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #979,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and interesting March 15, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's always fun to learn about the curious characteristics of our perceptual system and the vision system is no exception. This book presents many detailed examples of visual ailments and highlights the insights they expose. It got a little bit fuzzy towards the end, it seemed to lose direction but all in all, I quite enjoyed it.
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