Melvyn A. Goodale

Climbing Into The Human Brain

The field of cognitive neuroscience is developing at a furious pace, and that's exactly how this movie-loving professor likes it.


Melvyn A. Goodale is the Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience at Western University and Director of the Brain and Mind Institute. We asked him everything from what inspired him to become a researcher to what he is reading in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a researcher?
I rather fell into it. You can read about what happened here.

What do you like most about your work?
New methods and discoveries are unfolding at a ferocious rate in cognitive neuroscience – and I feel lucky to be part of these exciting developments. I also enjoy being around young students, from whom I learn so much.

What do you envision in the future of your field?
I am constantly surprised at the new findings that researchers in my field are uncovering. I can’t predict the future but I do know that it will be exciting – and life-changing.

How will your research make a difference in people’s lives?
The more we understand the neural substrates of human cognitive function, the better able we are to understand – and deal with – cognitive dysfunction.

What advice would you give to young researchers?
The field is becoming increasingly computational as it matures. Learn as much math as you can right now while your brain is still plastic.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Developing, with my good friend and colleague David Milner, the two visual systems account of human visual processing: vision-for-perception and vision-for-action

What do you read?
I am a great fan of thrillers – and satirical novels. I just finished “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins and I am currently re-reading “Boomsday” by Christopher Buckley.

What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
I would love to be able to climb into the brain of some of the neurological patients who I study and get a glimpse of how they experience the world (if only for an instant).

What’s on your iPod/CD collection/turntable?
Not much. I stream Laurie Brown’s “The Signal”, Tom Power’s “Deep Roots”, and as much Baroque as I can.

If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet Charles Darwin – my hero.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?
An astronaut who explores new worlds.

What do you like to do for fun?
Movies (I watch far too many) and hiking with my family

Do you have a favourite motto/words to live by?
I don’t live by mottos. I just get on with life.