Language Affects Half of What Is Seen

According to a study released by researchers at UC Berkeley, half of what a human can see is affected by the language one speaks.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study suggests that language affects perception in the right half of the visual field but much less, if at all, in the left half.

This new finding may be explained by the organization of the brain, the researchers say, because language function is processed predominantly in the left hemisphere of the brain, which receives visual information directly from the right visual field.

Earlier studies addressing the possible influence of language on perception tended to look for a simple “yes” or “no” answer. However, the current findings support both views by demonstrating that language appears to sharpen visual distinctions in the right visual field, and not in the left. In their paper, the researchers conclude that humans’ representation of the visual world “may be, at one and the same time, filtered and not filtered through the categories of language.”

Scripps Ecologist Named Pew Fellow

Scripps Institution of Oceanography marine ecologist Enric Sala has been selected as a 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation.

Considered to be among the world’s most prestigious awards in conservation, the fellowship will give Sala $150,000 to conduct a three-year conservation project.

Sala, who has worked at Scripps since 1997, has researched the impact of human activities on coastal environments and the direct and indirect effects of coastal fishing.

With the funds, he plans to develop a cost-effective method to determine the ecosystem status of marine reserves.