Anne Treisman, 1935 to 2018

It is with sadness that we announce that our former Fellow in Psychology, Anne Treisman, passed away on Friday 9 February 2018. Anne initially studied for a BA in Modern Languages at Newnham College, Cambridge. However, when offered a doctoral research fellowship studying French literature instead asked to study for a second one-year Bachelor degree in Psychology. In 1957 she moved to Oxford to study for her DPhil completing her thesis on ‘Selective Attention and Speech Perception’ in 1962 under her advisor Carolus Oldfield. After receiving her DPhil, Anne worked in the Medical Research Council Psycholinguistics Research Unit conducting research in selective listening. Anne started tutoring St Anne’s students in 1964 and was elected to a Fellowship in 1967, when she also joined the department of Psychology. 

Anne moved to the US in 1978 taking up an appointment at the University of British Columbia, followed by the University of California-Berkeley, and in 1993 at Princeton University where she remained for the rest of her career. Anne was a luminary in attention research, contributing significantly to the theoretical foundations of the field as we know it today. She introduced Attenuation Theory, which added much needed flexibility into selection of information based on both physical features and meaningful learned associations; she developed the Feature Integration Theory to explain when and how the attention focus operates to deliver objects to our perception; she proposed that objects could also act as units of selection; and much more. Throughout her career, Anne remained ahead of the field, on top of the literature and methodological advances, and always modest and generous.

Honours include being appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society, London (1989), American Philosophical Society (2005), National Academy of Sciences (1994), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995), the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (1990), and the Grawemeyer Award in Psychology (2009).

Our thoughts are with her friends and family at this time. 

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