TED Talks: VS Ramachandran on your mind

by mo on Monday, March 21, 2011

I still remember the first time I came across this talk – it was about eight or so months ago. I was sitting at work, putting together some mock ups, listening to TEDtalks to help time pass faster. I don't usually listen to science talks but I was desperate, and Ramachandran's talk was tagged in the "fascinating" section, and at that moment, as I toiled away churning out boring design after boring design, I needed something to "fascinate" me – and fascinate me it did.

"I study the human brain -- the functions and structure of the human brain. And I just want you to think for a minute about what this entails. Here is this mass of jelly -- three pound mass of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand, and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space. It can contemplate the meaning of infinity and it can contemplate itself contemplating on the meaning of infinity. And this peculiar recursive quality that we call self-awareness, which I think is the Holy Grail of neuroscience, of neurology, and hopefully, someday, we'll understand how that happens."

What stuck with me the most was his talk about a patient suffering from phantom limbs, and how he used simple visual illusions to help treat the patient. At that moment, the weight of just how fascinating and astounding the mind is – and in particular the role that vision plays in that.What i felt – and I hadn't felt it in such a long time – was a sense of wonder.

And this feeling of wonder, having stuck with me for the past seven months or so, has manifested into a desire to create designs that leave users feeling just that – wonder. With a new awareness of how vision plays a significant role in our perception of our body self, I felt that as a visual communicator, it is my/our role to foster this awareness amongst the general public through designs that communicate this. Hence why this is the focus of my research project. Enjoy!

VS Ramachandran On Your Mind, 2007, online video, accessed 6 April 2011, <http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind.html>.  

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