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Dale Purves, Research Professor Emeritus of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences    editDale Purves

The Purves Laboratory is continuing to study visual perception and its neurobiological underpinnings. Ongoing investigations include understanding the perception of brightness, color, orientation, motion, and depth. The unifying theme of these several projects is the hypothesis that visual percepts are generated according to a wholly empirical strategy. The strategy represents in perception the empirical significance of the stimulus rather than its properties. This theory of vision and its relation to cortical structure and function is being explored by examining in probabilistic terms the perceptual responses of human subjects, the properties of virtual organisms that evolve in defined visual environments, and the response properties of visual cortical neurons in experimental animals. Current work is focused on the validation of the theory using natural image databases with complete information about luminance, color and range (physical geometry), asking whether the corresponding perceptual phenomenology is accurately predicted by the statistical information in these proxies of human experience. This empirical theory of vision is also being extended to understanding the phenomenology of music, and to audition more generally.

Office Location: B241, LSRC Bldg., Research Drive, Durham, NC 27708
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M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1964
A.B., Yale University, 1960
B.A., Yale University, 1960

Representative Publications   (More Publications)
  • "Howe Q, Purves D (2004) Size contrast and assimilation explained by the statistics of scene geometry. J Cog Neurosci 16(1): 90-102.." ().
  • "Purves D, Lotto RB (2004) The Cornsweet effect. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 3rd edition. G. Adelman and B.H. Smith, eds. Elsevier Press 2004.." ().
  • "Schwartz D, Purves D (2004) Pitch is determined by naturally occurring periodic sounds. Hearing Research 194: 31-46.." ().
  • Yang, Z; Purves, D. "A statistical explanation of visual space.." Nature Neuroscience 6.6 (June, 2003): 632-640. [12754512], [doi]  [abs]
  • "Long, F. and D. Purves (2003) Natural scene statistics as the universal basis for color context effects. Proc Natl Acad Sci 100 (25): 15190-15193.." ().
  • "Purves,  D. and R.B. Lotto (2003) Why We See What We Do:  An Empirical Theory  of Vision. Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA.." ().
  • "Schwartz, D., C.Q. Howe and D. Purves (2003) Statistical evidence that musical universals derive from the acoustical characteristics of human speech. J. Neurosci. 23: 7160-7168.." ().
  • "Purves, D., R.B. Lotto, S.M. Williams, S. Nundy and Z.Yang (2001) Why we see things the way we do: Evidence for a wholly empirical strategy of vision. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B, 356: 285-297.." ().
  • "Lotto, R.B. and D. Purves (2000) An empirical explanation of color contrast. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 97: 12834-12839.." ().
  • "Nundy, S., B. Lotto, D. Coppola, A. Shimpi and D. Purves (2000) Why are angles misperceived? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 97: 5592-5597.." ().
  • "Lotto, R.B. and D. Purves (1999) The effects of color on brightness. Nature Neurosci. 2: 1010-1014.." ().
  • "Lotto, R.B., S.M. Williams and D. Purves (1999) Mach bands as empirically derived associations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 96: 5245-5250.." ().
  • "Purves, D., A. Shimpi and R.B. Lotto (1999) An empirical explanation of the Cornsweet effect. J. Neurosci. 19: 8542-8551.." ().
  • "Williams, S.M., A.N. McCoy and D. Purves (1998) An empirical explanation of brightness. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 95: 13301-13306.." ().
  • "White, L.E., T. J. Andrews, C. Hulette, A. Richards, M. Groelle, J. Paydarfar and D. Purves  (1997)  Structure of the Human Sensorimotor System II.  Lateral symmetry.  Cereb Cortex 7:31-47.." ().
  • "Purves, D. (1994) Neural Activity and the Growth of the Brain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.." ().

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