How is it that sodium and potassium and calcium ions shuttling back and forth through holes and neural membranes—or hundreds of neural membranes, or thousands, or millions; whatever it might be—how do you go from that description of the brain in a principled way to: I’m now experiencing the taste of chocolate? Without waving your hands, pulling a rabbit out of the hat—no magic. We want a mathematical, precise theory.
Donald David Hoffman is an American cognitive psychologist and popular science author. He is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, with joint appointments in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and the School of Computer Science.
Hoffman studies consciousness, visual perception and evolutionary psychology using mathematical models and psychophysical experiments. His research subjects include facial attractiveness, the recognition of shape, the perception of motion and color, the evolution of perception, and the mind-body problem. He has co-authored two technical books: Observer Mechanics: A Formal Theory of Perception (1989) offers a theory of consciousness and its relationship to physics; Automotive Lighting and Human Vision (2005) applies vision science to vehicle lighting. His book Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (1998) presents the modern science of visual perception to a broad audience. His 2015 TED Talk, "Do we see reality as it is?" explains how our perceptions have evolved to hide reality from us.