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Season 2019-2020.


Patrick Cavanagh


October 2019

October 2nd, BRaIN Program Seminar/Convergence Sci-Art Art-Sci Conferences.

Patrick Cavanagh PhD. Department of Psychology, Glendon College

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College

Patrick Cavanagh

The Science of Art and Illusion

Videography & Edition: Cristian Zaelzer.

The Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), and the Convergence Initiative are happy to invite you to the joint BRaIN Seminar/Convergence Sci-Art Art-Sci Conference featuring Dr. Patrick Cavanagh.


Patrick Cavanagh graduated in Communications Engineer from McGill University in 1968. An interest in artificial intelligence led to a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Carnegie-Mellon in 1972. He taught at the Université de Montréal in Psychology until 1989, when he moved to Harvard as a Professor of Psychology. Along with Ken Nakayama, he founded the Vision Sciences Laboratory at Harvard in 1990. In 2007, he accepted a Chaire d’Excellence at the Université Paris Descartes where he continues as the head of the Centre and Attention and Vision of the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception. He is an Emeritus Professor at Harvard and a Research Professor at Dartmouth. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Psychologists and received a 2012 Honorary Doctorate from the Université de Montréal.

About The Science of Art and Illusion.


A piece of art can trigger many emotions and impressions, many of them just as the artist intended. However, the same painting may also reveal, unintentionally, much about the workings of the brain: how the brain recovers the light and space and surfaces that we see. These are privileged insights not available from studying vision with natural scenes or photographs. These insights depend on undetected errors in representation. Painters often stray from photorealistic styles, taking liberties with the rules of physics to achieve a more effective painting. Critically, some of these transgressions of physics such as impossible shadows go unnoticed by viewers – these undetected errors are the ones that tell us which rules of physics actually count for visual perception. As artists find the rules they can break without penalty, they act as research neuroscientists and we have only to look at their paintings to uncover and appreciate their discoveries. We will use art and illusions in art, to do “science by looking”, unlocking basic rules of visual cognition discovered by artists.



Please feel free to share this mail your community and friends.

Soon we will open our event on Facebook and Eventbrite for registration.


Cost: FREE!

Date: Wednesday, Oct 2nd, 12:00 pm

Place: Montreal General Hospital. 1650 Avenue Cedar, Rm L7-140

Montréal, QC, H3G 1A4

Tél: 514-934-1934, ext. 45102/42361




The Convergence Sci-Art/Art-Sci Conferences is a series focussed on the crossover of disciplines with science, especially arts and communication. The talks cover subjects like the influence of media on modern science, the public perception of the scientific method, neuroscience popular misconceptions, neuroscience and technology in the medical practice, or science immersed artistic practice.


The Convergence Initiative is an independent nonprofit initiative developed in partnership with the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program of the RI-MUHC, Concordia Faculty of Fine Arts, and Visual Voice Gallery. It is supported by the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, The Integrated Program in Neuroscience of McGill University, and the Montreal General Hospital Foundation.

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