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Visual Perception, Emotion, and Cognition Laboratory

Visual Perception, Emotion, and Cognition LaboratoryVisual Perception, Emotion, and Cognition Laboratory

Visual Perception, Emotion, and Cognition Laboratory


The VPEC Lab gives complimentary demonstrations of vision science to elementary, middle-school, and high-school students. Dr. Sweeny, his lab members, and a team of graduate student volunteers from the University of Denver will visit your school and present hands-on, cutting-edge demonstrations of visual illusions and neuroscience research. We'll help your students to understand fascinating discoveries without being overly technical, highlighting that much of perception is actually rooted in the activity of the brain, not just the eyes. The purpose of this outreach program is not just to entertain, but to stimulate scientific curiosity, especially among science-averse students, showing them that their curiosities and interests are not only shared by scientists, but are scientific in nature. Also, students will have a chance to see what scientists do, first hand—an experience that is often available only in college. We will also provide your school with resources and training to incorporate parts of our program into your ongoing curricula, ensuring that your students will be able to enjoy this opportunity for years to come!


 If you are interested, please contact Dr. Sweeny to schedule a visit.


 With variations in content to fit student levels between early elementary school and ninth grade, students will learn about visual illusions and the processes of perception that happen in the brain that change the way we see things.

sodium light

motion adaptationLarissa demonstrates how the brain allows us to perceive motion.

Two presenters under the colorless glow of a sodium lamp as part of an outreach presentation.  This demonstration shows students what vision would be like without color. 


This phenomenon causes both the squares indicated above to appear as different colors while they're the same shade of grey.

Previous Events

  • St. Michael Indian School: Navajo Nation Arizona. Attendance: 30
  • STRIVE Prep, Westwood. Attendance: 100
  • Denver Public Schools Native Success. Attendance: 30
  • Denver School of Science and Technology. Attendance: 12
  • Denver North High School, 9th grade. Attendance: 160
  • Denver North High School, 10th grade. Attendance: 160
  • DU Day of Action. Attendance: 30
  • STRIVE Prep, Green Valley Ranch. Attendance: 120


Outreach events are made possible with collaboration from the Center for Multicultural Excellence and the Pioneer Initiative for Outreach.