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“I’ve tested visual perception in humans, birds and bees. What I’ve found surprising is that, despite the huge differences in brain size and structure, all animal species seem to recognise objects in similar ways.” – Quoc Vuong

October 28th, 2015

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What made you start looking at your research? 

I studied psychology for my undergraduate degree to avoid physics and chemistry. Although the choice of psychology was somewhat by accident, I was happily surprised by the range of topics explored in psychology. I became especially fascinated in how people’s brain make sense of the world around them.

How do you conduct your research?

The main tool I use is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner that is common now in hospitals. I test volunteers in experiments in which they perform simple tasks with pictures or sounds while their brain is scanned. The scanner is a very strong magnet that allows me to see brain activity going on in different parts of the brain as volunteers perform the tasks. Based on the brain activity, I try to figure out how the brain process the information it gets from the different senses.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found out from your research?

I’ve tested visual perception in humans, birds and bees. What I’ve found surprising is that, despite the huge differences in brain size and structure, all animal species seem to recognise objects in similar ways. This suggests that there are general principles that allow animals to make sense of the world around them. The flip side is that these general principles are difficult to discover.

Why did you sign up for Performing Research?

I think it is important to communicate my research and their implications broadly to students, clinicians, artists and the public. I therefore want to learn performance skills, as it would help me engage this broad audience and make my research accessible beyond the scientific community.

How do you feel about the performance at Northern Stage?

This will be an exciting new challenge for me. Though, of course, I will be a little terrified!

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