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Farewell to Adriana

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Professor Adriana Fiorentini: 1/11/1926 – 29/2/2016

Nicoletta Berardi, Concetta Morrone, Donatella Spinelli - Perception - in press

Adriana Fiorentini was for many decades a pillar of the CNR Institute for Neurophysiology (then Neuroscience). On the 29th February 2016 she passed away peacefully in her sleep, with a smile. A whole generation of vision scientists remembers her with love and respect. Her wisdom, intelligence, dedication to science, enthusiasm for research and love of knowledge set an example to us all. She was a role model of respect, generosity, patience, collaboration and true humility: discrete and reserved, always there for her students and colleagues. Born and schooled in Milan, she graduated in Physics in 1948 at the University of Florence, studying optics under Professor Giuliano Toraldo di Francia at the National Institute of Optics in Arcetri.

Adriana and Lamberto

During her studies she noticed a strange contrast phenomenon, which she correctly interpreted as the visual illusion known as “Mach Bands”: this observation was fundamental in shifting her research interests towards visual perception. In her early post-graduate years at Arcetri (1948-1968), Adriana published many innovative studies on physiological optics and perception, which are cited to this day. To mention just two: the seminal demonstration of human receptive fields (or “perceptive fields”) defined by antagonistic center‐surround interactions; and her first (but not last) Nature paper (with Donald MacKay of Keele), demonstrating a neural (VEP) correlate of a perceptual phenomenon ...[PDF]

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