Anne Treisman bigraphy, stories - English psychologist

Anne Treisman : biography

February 27, 1935 -

Anne Marie Treisman FRS (born February 27, 1935 in Wakefield, Yorkshire) is a psychologist currently at Princeton University's Department of Psychology. She researches visual attention, object perception, and memory. One of her most influential ideas is the feature integration theory of attention, first published with G. Gelade in 1980.


Treisman is married to Nobel Laureate psychologist Daniel Kahneman. on

Selected Publications

Key works include:

  • Treisman, A., & Gelade, G., 1980. A feature integration theory of attention. Cognitive Psychology, 12, 97-136.
  • Treisman, A., 1991. Search, similarity and the integration of features between and within dimensions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 17, 652-676.

Major contributions

Early in her career, she published a paper in Psychological Review that was central to the development of selective attention as a scientific field of study. This paper articulated many of the basic issues that continue to be fundamental and guide studies of attention to this day. Some years later she proposed an enormously influential theory called Feature Integration Theory (FIT) which has had broad impact both within and outside psychology. Her studies demonstrated that early vision encodes features such as color, form, orientation, and others, in separate "feature maps" and that without spatial attention these features can bind randomly to form illusory conjunctions and deficits in selection. This work has formed the basis for thousands of experiments in cognitive psychology, vision sciences, cognitive science, neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Another influential idea, Jeremy Wolfe's theory called Guided Search, took many ideas from the feature integration theory and most works in the field of visual attention that work with the concept of a saliency map reference back to her feature integration theory.

At about the same time as FIT was proposed, neuroscientists were independently discovering that the primate cortex contained many different cortical areas where neurons were tuned to selective features (for example, orientation, luminance, color, shape, size, motion, and so on). The neuroscience community was abuzz with the question of how the brain solved the "binding problem": how did the visual system recombine features into the unified wholes we see? Again, Treisman saw the problem from a fresh perspective. By testing patients with selective attention problems, she and her students and colleagues first demonstrated that the binding problem could be a real problem in everyday life and that one solution to the binding problem required spatial attention. These findings have had broad impact, spurring a multitude of imaging, electrophysiological and neuropsychological studies.


She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London.

Treisman was the recipient of the 2009 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.

She received the William James Fellow Award in 2002. The quote is as follows:

Anne Treisman is one of the most influential cognitive psychologists in the world today. For over 40 years she has been defining fundamental issues of how information is selected and integrated to form meaningful objects and memories that guide human thought and action. Her creativity and insight have often challenged investigators to think outside the box, to reach beyond their own specialties and to address the hard questions of human cognition.

Treisman received the National Medal of Science in 2013.

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Living octopus

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