By Bianca Chan

Human neuropsychology and perception. To truly understand these terms, or even begin to think about what mind-bending complexities are buried within them, is certainly daunting to the passing eye. For most, they remain so out of our comfort zones we may even glaze over them and accept them as foreign words that we don’t – and won’t ever – need to know.

For those who are interested in trying to grasp the relationships amongst human behaviour, the brain and cognition, as well as the links between sensory stimulation and experience, meet Prof. Brian Tansley.

As a young man entering the University of British Columbia in 1967, Tansley had one thing in mind: “To try to apply what I learned [at the UBC psychology program] to solve real-world problems,” he explained in an email to CUOL.

Fifty years later, Tansley has earned a bevy of degrees, including a Bachelors, two Masters and a PhD, all specializing in vision and hearing with psychology, engineering and medical backgrounds.

While it may be Tansley’s scholastic triumphs that would impress his students and colleagues, it is his endeavours in applying that knowledge to “real-world” issues that make him most proud.

He’s designed sensory tests to detect early effects of neurological disorders and explored problems relating to medical diagnoses affecting vision and auditory perception. Tansley has also developed further testing protocols for patients with visual disorders and has even extended his knowledge of vision and hearing principles to communication systems for transportation, such as visual signals for road, rail, marine and aviation applications.

It is easy to see how Tansley’s passion for using his extensive knowledge to fix problems in the real world are reflected in the courses he teaches. His class Perception (PSYC 3702) is designed to demonstrate the ways in which knowledge of perception can be used to solve real-world problems in various fields, including manufacturing, medicine, architecture, industrial design, communication and entertainment systems, and transportation engineering.

Similarly, Human Neuropsychology (PSYC 2307) explores what goes on between the human brain and human behaviour and cognition, which are research foundations essential to most psychologists.

Whether it has been Tansley’s academic exploits or his drive to apply them to guide real-life changes, it is inarguable that he has led a remarkable life. He continues to do so through his experiences teaching young students, ones much like his younger self entering UBC, and hopes that his students take away one simple message.

“I would hope students can see how training in one of these disciplines could lead to a rewarding career, not just in psychology but in the many disciplines that also relate to these topics,” he said.

More information about Prof. Tansley and his courses can be found here.

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