Celebrating the legacy of Horace Barlow

The Rank Prize Optoelectronics Committee were delighted to support the Vision and Mind symposium, held in honour of former committee member Horace Barlow (1921-2020) at the University of Cambridge on 16 December 2022.

Barlow was one of the great figures of modern neuroscience, well known for his path-breaking contributions to visual neurophysiology, psychophysics, and brain theory. The symposium sought not to look back at Barlow’s career, but rather at current developments stemming from the continuing influence and impact of his work.

The meeting was bookended by keynote addresses by Markus Meister and William Bialek, each of whom offered a unique perspective on Barlow’s enduring influence, and fully fleshed out by eight other renowned and lucid speakers.

160 delegates attended, including nearly 100 scientists in training (postdoctoral trainees, students at all levels). Arrangements were made for virtual attendance for those unable to travel because of the bitterly cold weather and train strikes.

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The symposium was highly enjoyable with a diverse mix of speakers and perspectives. I found there to be an insightful balance between high-level overview and reflection on Barlow’s life and work, and domain-specific examples of speakers’ personal research which took inspiration from similar themes. Organisationally everything was very fluid, and the structure of the day allowed time for networking and scientific exchange.’

PhD student Technical University, Munich


Scientific committee

William Bialek, Zoe Kourtzi, Tony Movshon, Daniel Wolpert.

Organising committee

Miranda Barlow, Roger Keynes, Tony Movshon