I'm an Associate Professor at Bryn Mawr College working in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. I completed my PhD at the University of Toronto in 2013, and my BA at Wellesley College in 2005. I teach courses covering a variety of topics in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, logic, early modern philosophy, and the philosophy of psychology and neuroscience. My introductory philosophy course was recently featured as a Bryn Mawr Cool Class.
My research is on attention, consciousness, and perception. I am currently working on a Routledge Handbook on Perceptual Learning (co-edited with Kevin Connolly) that grows out of my research on the Interdisciplinary Study of Perceptual Learning. I am also working on a second book that explores the philosophical significance of perceptual differences more generally. For a list of my published papers and works in progress, see the section on my research below. When I'm not philosophizing, I enjoy going on adventures with my family, writing fiction for kids, and teaching our cat new tricks.
"What is Diffuse Attention?" (forthcoming) Mind and Language.
"The Persistent Problem of Targetless Thought" (2020) Consciousness and Cognition.
"Perceptual Learning" (2019) WIREs Cognitive Science. v. 10 issue 3. doi:10.1002/wcs.1489
"Seeing the Forest and the Trees: A response to the identity crowding debate" (2018) Thought. 7:20-30.
"Perceptual Content is Indexed to Attention" (2017) Synthese, 194(10):1-16.
Papers in Progress:
"How Perceptual Learning Enables Agency" (draft in progress)
"Attention and the Conscious Background" (draft in progress)
"Embodied Attention" (draft in progress)
Books in Progress:
Prettyman, A. and Connolly, K. (Eds.) "Routledge Handbook on Perceptual Learning" (under contract)
Prettyman, A. "Seeing Things Differently: The Philosophical Significance of Perceptual Differences" (draft in progress)
Selected Presentations and Commentaries:
"Seeing Things Differently," Colloquium Talk, York University, Toronto, January 2022
Perceptual Learning Symposium, American Philosophical Association (Eastern) NYC 2021
Keynote Address, West Chester University Graduate Conference. (Postponed due to Covid-19)
Comments on Casey Landers, "A Constraint on Perceptual Contents." American Philosophical Association (Eastern). Philadelphia, January 2020.
"Embodied Attention in Vision." Contributed session at the Embodied Cognition Workshop, Bryn Mawr College, October 2019.
"From Soccer Stars to Sommeliers: How attention enables agency," Invited Colloquium, Haverford College, October 2017
"Perceptual Precision," Minds Online, October 2017
"Attention and Perceptual Learning," Symposium Presentation at the European Society for Analytic Philosophy, Munich, Germany, August 2017
"Teaching Philosophy of Mind in a Liberal Arts Context," AALAC Workshop, Portland 2016
"Attention and Perceptual Justification," Pacific APA, San Francisco 2016
"Comments on Jennings, Conscious Entrainment," Pacific APA, Vancouver 2015
"Diffuse Attention and the Epistemic Role of Attention: A Reply to Block and Smithies," Comments at the Central APA, St. Louis 2015
"Diffuse Attention and Consciousness," Eastern APA, Philadelphia 2014
"A New Look at the Content of Perception," Barnard-Columbia Philosophy Workshop, July 2014, & Yonsei University, S. Korea, June 2014
"Is there a Diffuse Mode of Attention?" Poster Presentation, ASSC Brighton, 2012
"Mind-Wandering and the Good Life," Poster Presentation with Sebastian Watzl, SPP 2011
"Attention and Perceptual Content: Keeping it Determinate," Eastern APA, Washington DC 2011
"Attention and Perceptual Consciousness," Boston Interdisciplinary Conference on Consciousness, 2011
"Shifts of Attention and the Content of Perception," Pacific APA San Diego 2011, NYU-Columbia Graduate Conference 2011, MIT-Harvard Graduate Conference 2011
The Interdisciplinary Study of Perceptual Learning
People often say things like the following: Cabernet Sauvignon tastes differently to an expert wine taster than to a novice, or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony sounds differently to a seasoned conductor than it does to someone in the audience hearing it for the first time. The examples just described are cases of perceptual learning—cases of long-term changes in perception as the result of practice or experience.
In the 2016/17 academic year, I explored the science and philosophy of perceptual learning as a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. This research was supported by a grant (co-authored with Kevin Connolly) from the Cambridge New Directions in the Study of the Mind Project. As part of this project, we coordinated two interdisciplinary workshops. You can read more in the workshop reports written by our graduate student associates.