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For Immediate Release: June 22, 2010
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

Neuroscientist and Bestselling Author Susan Barry to Discuss Life Without 3D Vision at MBL Friday Evening Lecture, July 2

Sua Barry
Dr. Susan Barry. Photo credit: Rosalind Winard

WOODS HOLE, MA—Neuroscientist Dr. Susan R. Barry will chronicle the voyage that led to her amazing experience of seeing in three dimensions for the first time at age 50 at the next MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Friday Evening Lecture on Friday, July 2. Her lecture, Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions will be held at 8:00 PM in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The event is free and open to the public.

For years, Dr. Barry, a professor at Mount Holyoke College, taught her students the conventional wisdom that the brain is malleable only during a “critical period” in early childhood. Often she used her own story as an example. Dr. Barry had been cross-eyed since early infancy and could not see in 3D. She assumed that her brain had reorganized itself when she was a baby to avoid double vision, and it was impossible to change brain wiring as an adult. However, at age 48, Dr. Barry consulted a developmental optometrist who prescribed a program of optometric vision therapy. After intensive training, Dr. Barry accomplished what she and other scientists considered impossible: she learned to see in stereo depth and experienced an extraordinary, new view of the world.

Dubbed “Stereo Sue” by author Oliver Sacks in a 2006 New Yorker article by that name, Dr. Barry wrote an account of her experience—Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions (Basic Books, 2009) which was rated fourth best science book for 2009 by the editors of Amazon.com and was selected as one of the best sci-tech books of 2009 by the Library Journal.

Copies of Fixing My Gaze will be available for sale in the Lillie Auditorium lobby before and after the lecture.

Dr. Barry earned a B.A. in biology from Wesleyan University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. She has worked as a research neuroscientist at the University of Miami Medical School, the University of Michigan, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center and has been a member of the faculty of Mount Holyoke College since 1992.

Dr. Barry has a long association with the MBL. She is an alumna of the MBL Neurobiology course, has received several fellowships to study at the MBL, and has served on the MBL Education Committee and Science Council. She intends to continue her work as an advocate for people with vision disorders and to write a second book on the general subject of rehabilitation strategies.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The remaining lectures in the series are below. For more information, visit the FEL webpage.

July 9, 2010
Margaret J. McFall-Ngai, The University of Wisconsin Madison - "Waging Peace: Diplomatic Relations in Animal-Bacterial Symbioses"

July 15 – 16, 2010
Forbes Lectures - Allison Doupe, University of California, San Francisco –
July 15: “Lessons from Songbirds about Basal Ganglia Circuits, Social Context, and Plasticity”
July 16: “What Songbirds Can Teach Us About Learning And The Brain”

July 23, 2010
"Dying Young as Late in Life as Possible: Stem Cells, Tissue Renewal, and Regeneration" - Distinguished Alumni Lecture - Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, University of Utah School of Medicine; Howard Hughes Medical Institute

July 30, 2010
"The Nitrogen Dilemma: Feed the World or Protect the Environment?" - James N. Galloway, University of Virginia; Recipient of the 2008 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

August 6, 2010
Arctic Americans and Ice Age Animals Versus the Fossil Fuelers" - Peter Matthiessen, Two-time National Book Award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer

August 13, 2010
Joshua Lederberg Lecture - "Telomere Biology in Aging and Cancer" - Woodring E. Wright, UT Southwestern Medical Center

August 20, 2010
"Establishing a Body Plan: Maternal Control of Axis Formation in Drosophila" - Sager Lecture - Trudi Schupbach, Princeton University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas.