Ian P. Howard lecture explores sensory integration during development

David Burr
David Burr

A look at how humans integrate sensory information during development will be the topic of discussion at the Ian P. Howard Memorial Lecture, which takes place Friday, Sept. 18 at 2pm.

David Burr
David Burr

Guest speaker David Burr, professor and Chair of Physiological Psychology at Florence University, will deliver the address in the Senate Chamber, N904 Ross Building, with a reception to follow.

Presented by York University’s Centre for Vision Research (CVR), the lecture “Cross-sensory integration and calibration during development” offers insight on close to 40 years of Burr’s work studying the function of the human sensory systems.

Evidence from his research suggests humans integrate information between senses in a statistically optimal manner, which maximizes the precision of performance. Recent findings indicate, however, that reliability-based integration of vision and touch develops only after about eight years of age. Before that, children exhibit sense domination where one sense dominates the other. This suggests that during that developmental time, one sense calibrates the other rather than fusing together, and that the more dominant sense leads the calibration.

This theory is supported by findings, including research with congenitally blind children, who show a selective deficit in touch-related orientation discrimination.

Burr has spent nearly 40 years studying human sensory systems, particularly vision, and has made major contributions in the fields of motion perception, eye movements, perception of time, perception of number and multisensory perception.

He earned first-class honours from the University of Western Australia when he graduated in psychology in 1975, and went on to receive his PhD in physiology and psychology from Cambridge in 1979 under the supervision of Fergus Campbell.

After a series of research positions in Pisa, Italy and Perth, Australia, he was appointed professor of physiological psychology at Rome University in 1991. He has held the Chair of Physiological Psychology at Florence University since 1997.

His work in the field is funded by external sources, including the prestigious European Research Council ERC advanced grant, and has been published in over 200 papers and international journals.

He is a senior editor of the major journal of the field, Journal of Vision, and is on the editorial board of Current Biology, Perception and Timing & Time Perception Reviews.

Centre Vision Research headerThis lecture is part of a series named after Ian Howard (1927-2013), the founder of CVR.

Howard came to York in 1966 and remained an active researcher. Among his many contributions to York was his founding of the Centre for Vision Research (originally known as the York Vision Group) in the 1970s – a precursor to the “organized research units” that provide structure to York’s research today.

For more information, visit the Centre for Vision Research website or contact Teresa Manini at manini@cvr.yorku.ca.