Class Meeting Location for Tuesday's Class Week #5


How the Brain Lies and Misrepresents the "Real World"

Otto MacLin, Professor of Psychology at UNI, will discuss how the brain causes misperceptions, including errors in eye-witness identification, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in the University Room in Maucker Union on the UNI campus.

Prof. MacLin provides workshops for jurors on the problems with eye-witness identification. Because of research across the country like Dr. MacLin's, the New Jersey Supreme Court last fall (2011), acknowledging a "troubling lack of reliability in eyewitness identifications," issued sweeping new rules for such evidence in criminal cases.

Event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by UNI American Democracy Project/Provost's Office. For list of spring ADP events, call 273-6898.

To get 10 attendance/discussion points please attend the talk and then make a comment about the presentation (use terms that we have been learning). If you can't stay for the entire talk, stay for as much as you can.


I found the whole talk to be really interesting and it proved to be a bit of a refresher for things that we have been learning. The segment of the lecture about the fovea and the eye in general was over stuff that we already have learned but it was still nice to go over the information again. I think Dr. MacLin did a really good job of tying the eyewitness testimony information in with the brain's interpretation of the world around us.

Otto definately knows how to disseminate this information to an audience that does not necessarily know about the brain and how memory works. It's always a good talk and I always learn something new or think about something in a way I hadn't thought about before.

Besides the fact that I was called out in front of everyone...I found that it was actually very interesting because it was not a lot of scientific information about the eye (which is what I find boring)! I love learning about the optical illusions and how our brain plays tricks on us and how our eyes will fill in everything. It was really interesting to see how you could take pictures of two different men, photoshop them together and make a guy who looks like both of them at the same time, but different as well. It's once again, our eyes playing tricks on us. But one thing I am confused about, that Rodney guy, did he commit the crime or no? Or is there no real evidence so he's just suffering the consequence? If I could have been a juror for the Casey Anthony case she would be rotting in prison. Just saying! :) Good job Dr. MacLin! I like how you

paced the floor a lot and held your glasses in your hands (like you always do!)

I think what it comes down to is the evidence that is available in these cases. There were no eyewitnesses in that case, so it becomes based on other factors. With eyewitness cases there's just so much potential for error and it is difficult for a true signal to emerge from all the noise in the environment.

I enjoyed your presentation because you highlighted some of the concepts we had read about and discussed in class. I like how you discussed how the brain lies, but unlike most instances, it is actually a good thing because I also like the way I see the world around me. I thought it was interesting that the brain "sees"/fills in gaps of information that it EXPECTS to see in certain situations. I also enjoyed the pictures of the real people and morphed people, because it showed how particular racial features can lead people to categorize a person as a certain race, even if they aren't that particular race. It also showed how people of one particular race are more likely to correctly identify people of the same race, than people of a different race.

I enjoyed this presentation because it reminded me of Kim's Psych and Law class, that has been one of my favorite classes. I am going to law school in the fall and enjoy learning about the eye witness identification problems. I would actually prefer if you taught most of our Tuesday classes like you did for this presentation.

The thing of it is, is that you have to get the heavy scientific material as well so you can understand the various ways in which the mind can lie and be wrong about the perceptions that emerge from the processes of the brain trying to resolve the overwhelming amount of information presented in an instant from the external world. So, you got the overview in the talk you saw, but the details of science are what allows us to know these pieces of information from the talk and the science behind it is what makes people like Otto credible when they testify in court cases on eyewitness identification issues.

I really enjoyed the presentation. I liked the different demonstrations you did. Like the one with the morphed picture and how you demonstrated that you could get us to perceive it as the opposite person that we were looking at. I found that to be very interesting.
I also really liked the triangle demonstration. This relates directly to the illusory contours part of the chapter in the book. This demonstrates that our brain can actually make up lines where they aren’t really there to make sense of an image.

It's all about probability and what is most likely given prior knowledge mixed with the current bottom up stimulus input. Good stuff.

Dr. Maclin, what a great presentation! You keep it interesting with your funny attitude and wittiness. You helped me further understand parts of the eye like the retina fovea, and information on the blind spot. Even though you have gone through those same "eye slides" in class, repetition is always good for learning! I even learned more about how our rods and cones work. I know we also spent a whole class period on them as well, maybe I was more awake this time ;)
I really enjoyed when you talked about that we ignore what is constant. That our brain ignores what it is used to seeing. This is something that happens all the time, but I never really notice it.
One other thing, when you mention the difference between, boomboomboom, and boom.... boom. When referencing to gun shots. You asked us what the difference was and you said a life. That was really interesting to me that detectives put in account the way the gun shots were administered.
The bush/kerry simulation was also pretty cool. I have never done something like that.
Great talk!!

There's great adaptation negative after images out there. The face adaptation shows you that its just some features of the stimulus that we have responded to for long enough for our neurons to make their response to the same stimulus less frequent. This is a metabolic energy saver for the brain, with interesting effects when you apply it to situations like eyewitness testimony.

That was a great presentation! I was very interested the entire time which rarely happens for anything. I found the points about how we mesh images of what we think we see into each other. I was amazed on the experiments on which we looked at George Bush and John Kerry and the lady sitting on the chair. Also, the triangle presentation was so cool, I am amazed that my mind will create those lines that don't really exist. Really cool stuff!

glad you enjoyed Otto's talk!

That presentation was probably one of the best presentations I have ever attended. The evidence that was presented to explain why and how the brain lies was very easy to understand. I also was blown away by all of the different images that were put up that tricked the eyes. What all of it definitely did in my life was make me a lot more skeptical of my observation skills!

I think skepticism is probably one of the best weapons at defending yourself against misinformation.

The presentation was very well done. What stood out most for me was the gorilla video. I have seen that video many times before, but it was interesting to see people's reactions to what they missed. In hindsight, the gorilla seems to stand out extraordinarily; however, if your attention is not focused on it, you fail to see it. As you mentioned, this can also be applied to legal settings, where small details would be filled in, or omitted if you did not attend to the stimuli. Great talk prof!

lots of things at stake in those situations.

I enjoyed the presentation. I thought Dr. MacLin did a great job. Although this presentation may have been somewhat of a repeat I didn’t mind because I found some of the information about the retina and the fovea to be confusing. It really helped me grasp the information when it was related to eyewitness testimony. I enjoyed learning more about how the brain lie to us, and how we just fill things in that weren’t there before or that we can’t remember.

Glad that context worked for you to help solidify some of the material and make it relevant.

I was very impressed with the information that was presented. It did not seem like the presentation took over an hour because the material was so fascinating. I was sitting towards the back of the room and not once did I ever notice someone who looked bored. I was surprised at how much information Dr. MacLin talked about the eye. It was nice to understand what he was talking about prior to the presentation since we had gone over that information briefly in class. That night I went out to eat with my family and showed them all the gorilla video. They were all shocked and very impressed. I also explained the image the group was shown over President Bush and Senator Kerry along with the morphed face. I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and learned valuable and really cool information that is fun to share with other people.

I feel like everybody who could be a potential juror should have to attend this lecture as a requirement their first year of college. This is essentially what Dr. M will do at court cases, but I feel like if you get the information to people who are supposed to be getting an education, this helps when they hear things on the news or witness events or find themselves serving on juries. I always know that if I ever got picked for jury duty, the prosecution would get rid of me ASAP due to my knowledge of this information. Its too bad, b/c its actually emprically supported information, not just some misinformation and people could benefit from learning about it.

I have seen this talk twice now and I must say that the first time was more interesting simply because it made psychology seem so cool and I still think that but nothing was a shock so it just did not have the WOW factor the second time around. I would really like to know what is happening with the main trial that Professor Maclin talked about. I enjoyed being more "on the inside" this time around and knowing more in depth info about that eye and about why our brain is playing these tricks on us, that was probably the coolest part. Suprisingly I thought that the talk actually had a great deal of connection with our reading for this week. Some similarites that I recognized were object recognition, parts and wholes, middle vision, illusory contour, occlusion, and faces.

I like how you're connecting the dots and making the connection between the basic research and its applications to the "real world".

I thought the lecture was really interesting. I had no idea that people were that bad at identifing suspects. However, I would think that by telling the jury this information that it could possible shift peoples judgement. I would think that eyewitnesses have some credibility, and by telling this to people I think it could totally discredit an eyewitness. I also wanted to say, that the older gentlemen who asked a question and got denied from jury selection...You were right. He is a really smart guy. He was my Corporation Finance professor.

I think the main problem is that you can't really 100% trust your perception or your memory for that matter. You might feel confident, but you've seen demonstrations of all the ways you could be wrong or all the things you miss. I think its not a question of "how could I be wrong?" but "how wrong could I be?"

I thought it was a very interesting lecture. A lot of this was review from class as well as from past classes. I thought it was just amazing how easy it is for a witness to be contaminated by using leading questions or comparing pictures. I went over the same topic in psychology and law and I still remained fascinated with how the eye and brain work, and how easily it can be manipulated. I thought the lecture was a great review, and very informative.

Another pass always helps solidify your understanding of the material and gets you thinking about your own experiences the maleability of your own memories.

I believe that eye witness testimony is an extremely important topic and I enjoyed how the lecture was structured. Instead of providing examples about eye witness testimony gone wrong, Dr. Maclin chose to focus on the basics. I had never thought to relate these testimonies to how the retina processes the image; or how the image has to travel though several different processes to get to the photoreceptors at the back of the eye. I especially enjoyed the part about how the brain ignores things that are constant in our visual field, such as our eyes, nose, etc. I would have never thought to consider how my brain is processing the information in relation to what witnesses claim to “see”.

Another point that I found important was how expectation drives the perceptual process. In a sense, we see what we want to see. This is crucial for these testimonies as it gives a perspective on the process of identifying criminals and expectation theories. Overall, it was a very important topic and I enjoyed the lecture.

Good insight on the take home messages. Glad you had a good time.

This was a great presentation that helped me to understand eye witness testimony using sensation and perception concepts. It was interesting to learn these ways in which the brain lies to us. The story of the man who was sentenced to prison because of the sketch that the two girls came up with may have been biased and not accurately done by the sketch artist who had previously drawn a picture then had them critique it.There were many factors that led to his prosecution, though he may not have been the actual person. Certain things such as how we don't like constant things in our perception. For example, we have a nose that we never even notice. The picture of Kerry and Bush was also interesting when we incorporated the middle person as whichever person we were not staring at for 3 minutes. Some of the presentation was a nice review as well when talking about perception from the retinal level and our fovea. The image of the women sitting in the chair was my favorite because when the woman in the back was brought forward she was so tiny. Certain things we do not compensate for with how we perceive things to be when the brain is in fact lying to us. Overall I thought it was a great presentation and learned that there may be a lot more underlying factors in such eye witness testimony.

there are so many factors at play in these legal situations. I think its really important and beneficial for people to be informed of thes incidents.

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