Mark Changizi

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Mark Changizi is a theoretical cognitive scientist, with research on evolutionary origins of biological and cognitive design, including the "Perceiving the present" hypothesis to understand optical illusions, the "Nature-Harnessing" theory for the origins of writing, speech and music, the skin-signaling hypothesis for the origins of primate red-green vision, and the rain-tread hypothesis for pruney fingers.


He attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and then went on to the University of Virginia for a degree in physics and mathematics, and to the University of Maryland for a PhD in math.[1] In 2002 he won a prestigious Sloan-Swartz Fellowship in Theoretical Neurobiology at Caltech, and in 2007 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 2010 he took the post of Director of Human Cognition at a new research institute called 2ai Labs.[2]

Perceive the present[edit]

Changizi says that visual illusions are due to a neural lag which most humans experience while awake. When light hits the retina, about one-tenth of a second goes by before the brain translates the signal into a visual perception of the world. Changizi asserts that the human visual system has evolved to compensate for neural delays by generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. This foresight enables humans to react to events in the present, enabling humans to perform reflexive acts like catching a fly ball and to maneuver smoothly through a crowd. Although not the first to suggest this idea, he was the first to show how the idea can explain and unify a large variety of perceptual illusions. [3] [4] [5]



  • The brain from 25,000 feet, 2003
  • The Vision Revolution: How the Latest Research Overturns Everything We Thought We Knew About Human Vision, 2010
  • Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man, 2011


  • Changizi M A, Widders D M, 2002, "Latency correction explains the classical geometrical illusions" Perception 31(10) 1241–1262
  • Changizi, M. A., Hsieh, A., Nijhawan, R., Kanai, R., & Shimojo, S. (2008). Perceiving the Present and a Systematization of Illusions. Cognitive Science, 32(3), 459–503.