We recognize the artistry of Mona Lisa's elusive smile, but is there an underlying science? In this groundbreaking study, Harvard neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone explains how vision works. She tells us how great painters fool the brain: why Mona Lisa's smile seems so mysterious, Monet's "Poppy Field" appears to sway in the breeze, Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie" blinks like the lights of Times Square, and Warhol's "Electric Chair" pulses with current. Drawing on history and her own cutting-edge discoveries, Livingstone offers intriguing insights, from explanations of common optical illusions to speculations on the correlation of learning disabilities with artistic skill.
Margaret Livingstone is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. She has published numerous scholarly articles about vision and her discoveries have been reported in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and National Geographic, among other mainstream periodicals. David Hubel, Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, shared the 1981 Nobel Prize for Medicine.