Anne Treisman, PhD

Treisman A2

Anne Treisman, PhD

In Memory Of… Anne Treisman

Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.

Anne Treisman, PhD (1935-2018)
Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology
Princeton University


Anne Treisman held a B.A. from Cambridge, England, and a D. Phil, from Oxford, England. One of the central figures in building the modern sciences of cognitive psychology, Professor Treisman was one of the most influential cognitive psychologists in the world today. During her long career Anne Treisman had experimentally and theoretically defined the fundamental issue of how information was selected and integrated to form meaningful objects and memories that guide human thought and action. She had been a pioneer in studying how attention acts to select inputs for brain processing, how this process of selective attention was controlled, and its key role in constructing our internal representations for perception of objects. Professor Treisman’s creative and insightful work had inspired a whole school of experimentation and theoretical analysis leading to over 10,000 citations in the scientific literature. Its influence extends far beyond the psychology of attention and perception and formed the basis for thousands of experiments in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, vision and cognitive science, neuropsychology, as well as a theoretical framework for models of brain function, computer vision and artificial intelligence.


One of Professor Treisman’s most influential contributions was the Feature Integration Theory of Attention which had broad impact both within and outside psychology. In a series of elegant and simple experiments she demonstrated, using the process of visual target search, that early vision encodes simple features in separate “feature maps” and that focal spatial attention integrates them into a unified percept. This seminal work highlighted the “binding problem” and suggested how this problem may be resolved in the human brain.

Throughout her career Anne Treisman had not only introduced novel methods and innovative solutions for some of the more challenging questions in psychology but had also trained many scientists who had gone on to distinguished careers themselves. In December 2012, President Obama named Anne Treisman as one of twelve eminent researchers to receive the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon scientists. She had also been elected to the Royal Society of London in 1989, the U. S. National Academy of Sciences in 1994, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1995, and as a William James Fellow of the American Psychological Society in 2002. Among many other honors, she was the first psychologist to win the Golden Brain Award, in 1996. Anne Treisman continued to be a model and inspiration not only to her students and postdoctoral fellows but also to many other young scientists.


Individuals Honoring Anne Treisman:

Anonymous (1)
Kent C. Berridge, University of Michigan
Marylou Cheal, Arizona State University
Zhe Chen, University of Cantebury, New Zealand
Sang Chul Chong, Yonsei University
Paul Downing, University of Wales, Bangor
Howard Egeth, Johns Hopkins University
Tatiana-Aloi Emmanouil, Princeton University
* Karla Evans, Princeton University
* Susan Fiske, Princeton University
Morton Ann Gernsbacher, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Laura Gibson, Harvard University
Liqiang Huang, Princeton University
Nancy Kanwisher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Raymond Klein, Dalhousie University
Ethan Newby, Newby Research
Stephen E. Palmer, University of California, Berkeley
James Pomerantz, Rice University
Mary Potter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lynn Robertson, University of California, Berkeley
Hilary Schmidt
Adriane Seiffert, Vanderbilt University
Frank Tong, Vanderbilt University
Mary Elizabeth Wheeler, Ariston Pharmaceuticals
* Jeremy Wolfe, Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Xue Xin Zhang, Chinese University of Hong Kong

 * The FABBS Foundation would like to thank Dr. Karla Evans, Dr. Susan Fiske and Dr. Jeremy Wolfe for nominating Dr. Treisman for this honor and for leading the effort to spread the word about her nomination.


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