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Professor David Milner

Emeritus Professor

MA, PhD, Dip Psych, FRSE, FRS

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Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology  
Member of the Centre for Vision and Visual Cognition  
Member of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit  


My research is concerned with human visual perception, visuomotor control and spatial attention. I am interested in how these processes operate, and how they inter-relate with each other. My approach is based on empirical neuropsychological studies, in which we carry out systematic investigations of patients with brain damage, set specifically within the context of the wider background of cognitive neuroscience. Neuropsychological research can offer not only insights into the brain processes themselves, but can also enable us to use knowledge of those processes to help us understand the disorders suffered by brain-damaged individuals.

Much of the theoretical background that informs our research can be found in the books 'The Visual Brain in Action' (AD Milner and MA Goodale, Oxford University Press, 1995, 2006; and 'Sight Unseen' (Goodale and Milner, Oxford University Press, 2004, 2013; Our theoretical starting point is the fact that the patchwork quilt of visual areas laid out on the cortex of the primate brain divides broadly into two somewhat separate systems (the 'dorsal' and the 'ventral'). We argue that these two systems respectively mediate visual processing directed at two distinct functional endpoints: perception/cognition and visuomotor control. The ventral system is involved in constructing our conscious perceptual experiences and as a gateway to the memory systems of the brain, and in turn is modulated by those stored visual memories. The dorsal system operates in a much more 'bottom-up' fashion, transforming visual information to program and guide our actions (manual, ocular, and locomotor).