Vision Activities

Were you at the World Science Festival 2017? Want to learn more about vision and the activities presented by braiNY? Check out these activities:

Thaumatrope: The retina sends visual information back to your brain. The channels of communication, though, are not infinitely fast. An image produced by the retina in  response to stimulation lingers for one-tenth to one-twentieth of a second. Physiologists call this “the principle of the persistence of vision.” The thaumatrope fools your eye by switching images faster than the tenth-of-a-second limit, thus merging what are in fact two separate images into one visual impression.  Instructions to make your own.

Adaptation: There are neurons in your visual system that are sensitive to inward and outward motion. When you are staring at motion, these motion detector cells adapt to the moving pattern. But what happens when you look away? Test it out with this fun and easy activity.

Color vision: Our retina has specialized cells that “catch” light, called photoreceptors. There are two types of photoreceptors. Rods detect light but not color. Cones detect color based on different wavelengths of light. Signals collected by the rods and cones are sent to other cells in the retina and then to the optic nerve and through the rest of the visual pathway. The brain processes information from about 100 million photoreceptors! Cones react more slowly than rods do. Thus, rods are important for motion and cones help us see detail. Want to test this out? Make your own disappearing color wheel.

Illusions: Want to see others ways to “trick” your eyes (and your brain)? Check out the best illusions of the year.

Animal Vision: We see the world very differently than other animals. Learn more and see some very cool examples here and here. Or test your owl vision here.

Attention: Visual attention involves your brain focusing on important information but also not paying attention to unimportant information that you see. This is how our brains make sense of the world around us through our sense of sight. Change blindness occurs when we don’t pay attention to differences in our environment so we miss them completely. Another classic example is here.

For more information about your senses and neuroscience research, check out brain

Neuroscience Resources

Auditory Neuroscience Information

Brain Facts via SfN  

The Brain Question (ask a scientist) 

Dana Brain Resources for Seniors

Dana BrainWeb

Frontiers for Young Minds

The Homunculus 

The Homunculus Mapper 

Neuro Links

Neuroscience Lesson Plans 

Neuroscience demonstrations for the classroom  

Outreach Resources

Did you miss the Brain Awareness webinar? The full recording is now available on! The ABCs of BAW webinar helps BAW first-timers and dedicated supporters get ideas for new activities and learn best practices for planning and running successful events. Visit the webinar page on today to view the full recording, review the slides, and download itineraries to help you make use of Brain Awareness Week resources on Get inspired to bring BAW into your community!

Chapter co-president and braiNY organizer Dr. Kelley Remole discusses the importance of neuroscience outreach and how initiatives such as braiNY impact the public as well as the scientists who contribute. She is interviewed by the Artistic Director of Imagine Science Films, Alexis Gambis, in Image Science podcast series Experimenta. Watch here

To download a copy of our 2013 Society for Neuroscience Theme H poster, please click here: SfN 2013 poster.