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Guest Speaker: The role of the visual periphery in perceptual and social development - Pro. Vincent Reid, The University of Waikato

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Location: H0.03 - Humanities Building

Speaker: Pro. Vincent Reid, The University of Waikato

Title: The role of the visual periphery in perceptual and social development

Host: Suzanne Aussems

Abstract: Almost all research in the visual domain during infancy concentrates on foveated space. This makes intuitive sense as the location of a fixation yields crucial information on how and why visual information is processed. But the majority of visual processing occurs outside our foveated region of greatest acuity. Importantly, models of exogenous light penetration to the uterus indicate that it is not dark during development. Given evidence for light in the womb, what does this mean for the development of the visual system across gestation? First, we must consider the role of light in the formation of the visual system. I will present a new monte carlo model of how light interfaces with different layers of maternal tissue. This work shows that there is sufficient light in the uterus to enable a visual experience by the fetus during the third trimester. We currently know very little with respect to fetal visual capacities. I will outline the methods that I have been developing based on well-established infancy paradigms, with some illustrations from recent experiments related to preferential visual field engagement to the periphery, as measured by ultrasound and behavioural response. The fetus preferentially engages with stimuli in the periphery in addition to having particular predispositions for visual characteristics of the stimuli. Postnatally, our understanding of the visual periphery during infancy is relatively limited. I will outline a series of experiments indicating that the extreme visual periphery for an infant is different to that of an adult. Despite this, I will illustrate how peripheral space is flexible as a function of stimulus, with face-like stimuli and emotional content changing how information is processed in the extreme visual periphery. By the end of this talk, I hope to have convinced you that understanding the development of the visual periphery is key for our understanding of the origins of human psychological development from fetus to infant.

Biography: Vincent Reid is a Professor of Psychology. He completed his Ph.D. at Birkbeck, University of London in 2004. After working as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany, he became a Lecturer at Durham University. In 2012, Vincent moved to Lancaster University eventually being appointed to the role of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) prior to his departure to Waikato University in New Zealand where he has been Head of School since 2019. Vincent's research has included creating solutions for measuring the developing functional brain, understanding the visual development of the fetus in the third trimester of pregnancy, exploring perceptual and social development during infancy, and relations between motor-social-perceptual systems during development. Vincent explores these issues using a mix of EEG and behaviour-based experimental approaches and interventions.

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