Navigation Links
Crystal (eye) ball: Study says visual system equipped with 'future seeing powers'

Troy, N.Y. Catching a football. Maneuvering through a room full of people. Jumping out of the way when a golfer yells fore. Most would agree these seemingly simple actions require us to perceive and quickly respond to a situation. Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Mark Changizi argues they require something moreour ability to foresee the future.

It takes our brain nearly one-tenth of a second to translate the light that hits our retina into a visual perception of the world around us. While a neural delay of that magnitude may seem minuscule, imagine trying to catch a ball or wade through a store full of people while always perceiving the very recent (one-tenth of a second prior) past. A ball passing within one meter of you and traveling at one meter per second in reality would be roughly six degrees displaced from where you perceive it, and even the slowest forward-moving person can travel at least ten centimeters in a tenth of a second.

Changizi claims the visual system has evolved to compensate for neural delays, allowing it to generate perceptions of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future, so that when an observer actually perceives something, it is the present rather than what happened one-tenth of a second ago. Using his hypothesis, called perceiving-the-present, he was able to systematically organize and explain more than 50 types of visual illusions that occur because our brains are trying to perceive the near future. His findings are described in May-June issue of the journal Cognitive Science.

Illusions occur when our brains attempt to perceive the future, and those perceptions dont match reality. There has been great success at discovering and documenting countless visual illusions. There has been considerably less success in organizing them, says Changizi, who is lead author on the paper. My research focused on systematizing these known incidents of failed future seeing into a periodic table of illusion classes that can predict a broad pattern of the illusions we might be subject to.

More than meets the eye

We experience countless illusions in our lifetime. The most famous being geometrical illusionsthose with converging lines and a vanishing point we often see in Psychology 101 classes or in entertaining optical illusion books.

To picture one, think of the Hering illusion, which looks like a bike spoke with two vertical lines drawn on either side of the center vanishing point. Although the lines are straight, they seem to bow out away from the vanishing point. The optical illusion occurs because our brains are predicting the way the underlying scene would project in the next moment if we were moving in the direction of the vanishing point.

Evolution has seen to it that geometric drawings like this elicit in us premonitions of the near future, says Changizi. The converging lines toward a vanishing point are cues that trick our brains into thinking we are moving forwardas we would in the real world, where the door frame seems to bow out as we move through itand we try to perceive what that world will look like in the next instant.

Beyond geometric, Changizi was able to identify 27 other classes of illusions. He organized them into 28 predictable categories classified on a matrix that distributes them among four columns based on the type of visual feature that is misperceived (size, speed, luminance, and distance) and among seven rows based on the different optical features that occur when an observer is moving forward.

He then culled hundreds of previously documented illusions to test whether they would follow the appropriate prediction as determined by the table, and found that they did, indeed, follow the patterns he laid out in the matrix.

This new organization of illusions presents a range of potential applications, including more effective visual displays and enhanced visual arts. It especially may help constrain neuroscientists aiming to understand the mechanisms underlying vision, according to Changizi.


Contact: Amber Cleveland
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Related biology news :

1. New clues to how proteins dissolve and crystallize
2. Scientists find missing evolutionary link using tiny fungus crystal
3. Liquid crystal phases of tiny DNA molecules point up new scenario for first life on Earth
4. Unveiling the structure of microcrystals
5. Researchers develop liquid crystal pharmaceuticals to fight cancer and other diseases
6. Warming climate is changing life on global scale, says new study
7. NASA study links Earth impacts to human-caused climate change
8. Window of opportunity for restoring oaks small, new study finds
9. BBVA Foundation international study on attitudes to stem cell research
10. Mouse study: When it comes to living longer, its better to go hungry than go running
11. Study finds possible connection between marijuana abuse and stroke or heart attacks
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Crystal (eye) ball: Study says visual system equipped with 'future seeing powers'
(Date:9/30/2015)... , Sept. 30, 2015  The U.S. Court ... issued another key ruling in favor of Crossmatch ... Korean fingerprint scanner company Suprema and its U.S. partner ... 1930, a trade provision that declares it unlawful to ... by infringing two of Crossmatch,s patents, the 5,900,993 patent ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... , Sept. 29, 2015  iDAvatars is excited to be ... its product to market. The official announcement was recently made ... event in San Francisco , where ... powered by IBM Watson. "It is both an ... 100 companies to bring to market the cognitive power of ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... The global image sensors ... billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 4.6% ... Illumination (BSI) technique to improve picture quality are expected ...      (Logo: , The light ... loss and, thus, reduce the noise interference and increase ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2015)... ANNAPOLIS, Md. , Oct. 9, 2015 ... entered into the Congressional Record her statement recognizing the ... celebrated October 11-17. IPAW is sponsored by the ... companies, and is designed to:   , Raise ... contributions of plasma donors in saving and improving lives ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... and ROCKVILLE, Md. , Oct. ... privately-held biotechnology company developing next generation vaccines based ... has entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement ... the treatment or prevention of any and all ... agreement, Immunomic Therapeutics will receive an upfront payment ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... Inc., (NASDAQ: PULM ) will be webcasting the Company,s ... th Annual BIO Investor Forum on Tuesday, October 20, ... --> th Annual BIO Investor Forum on Tuesday, ... --> Pulmatrix will be presenting at the ... October 15, 2015 at 8:30 am EDT. Additionally, the Company ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... ... 09, 2015 , ... Leading microbial genomics startup uBiome today launched the first-ever ... between weight management and the microbiome. The study uses the ResearchKit framework, designed by ... app. , The uBiome app is available as a free download from the App ...
Breaking Biology Technology: