Beau Lotto is a globally renowned neuroscientist who specializes in perception research, and has for years wowed the world of science with work that blurs the boundaries between neuroscience and the arts. As well as bending the science of perception, he is also trying to transform the way people think not just about themselves but also about the world around them.
The focus of Beau’s research is perception, but his interest lies as much in a philosophical as scientific understanding of how humans see the world around them. Perception underpins creativity, and therefore innovation; even education is, in principle, the creation of perception. His research encompasses not just human vision, but bee and robot vision too. Beau goes even further by breaking down boundaries not just within his own discipline but between disciplines, by collaborating with artists, musicians, fashion designers and others anyone who has an interest in exploring different ways of seeing (and doing) things.
Beau’s center of perception research, known as Lottolab, has become a hybrid science lab-art studio which, as well as undertaking highly controlled experiments resulting in papers published in the top international scientific journals, produces stunning visual illusions and installations that have been included in exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery, the Serpentine Gallery and the Science Gallery in Dublin, among others. His illusions are used by many other scientists, artists, teachers and science museums internationally.
Beau has lectured on perception for TED, the RSA series, the BBC, and UK WIRED Magazine’s Annual Conference. He has also given talks to banks, governments, and universities such as Harvard. He is an inspiring and motivational speaker and uses illusions, games and interaction to engage his audience. Many of his talks focus on how the brain creates perceptions of oneself and one’s world towards a better understanding of self. He also discusses how to foster innovation by offering a new route into uncertainty and thus a deeper understanding of creativity and learning.
His organization Lottolab finished its two-year residency in May 2012 at the world’s best known Science Museum (in London), where they created new paradigms and programs for engaging small and large audiences with new ways of thinking about science, art and culture. Among other results were two BBC 2 Horizon programs, two programs with National Geographic Channel, the world’s first science paper authored by primary school children, which itself resulted in a freely accessible science education curriculum predicated on creating real science through play.
In Spring 2013 Lottolab created The Experiment in San Francisco with the Peter Baumann Foundation and other investors from Silicon Valley. The Experiment will be a pop-up laboratory space that truly explores what it means to be human in a highly controlled but wholly creative environment that is a night-club, cabaret and laboratory. The result will be a truly unique experience that blurs the boundaries between science, art and culture, with the aim of shining new light onto human nature. Additionally, Beau launched start-up Beautiful Mind, a company that brings together the latest knowledge in neuroscience, behavioral science and design thinking to offer brands a new way of looking at customer and client behaviors.
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Perception: Leadership and Innovation
As the CEO of one company and Director of another, Beau understands the pressures within the world of business. Through presentations that are reflective of his neuroscience research, Beau creatively helps us “see differently” – not only ourselves, but the world around us. Beau says, “my aim is the same in every single talk. I want you to know less at the end than you think you know now. Why? Because science is about questions, not answers. Anything interesting begins with doubt. I want you to have doubt at the end of this. Doubt of the world, but also yourself.”