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How do we make sense of what we see?
Date:11/19/2007

and background, but oftentimes, these cues contradict each other. The V2 mechanism combines these cues efficiently and provides us immediately with a rough sketch of the scene.

Von der Heydt called the mechanism "primitive" but generally reliable. It can also, he said, be overridden by decision of the conscious mind.

Our experiments show that the brain can also command the V2 mechanism to interpret the image in another way," he said. "This explains why, in Eschers drawings, we can switch deliberately" to see either the white birds or the dark birds, or to see either side of the staircase as facing "up."

The mechanism revealed by this study is part of a system that enables us to search for objects in cluttered scenes, so we can attend to the object of our choice and even reach out and grasp it.

We can do all of this without effort, thanks to a neural machine that generates visual object representations in the brain, von der Heydt said. Better yet, we can access these representations in the way we need for each specific task. Unfortunately, how this machine works is still a mystery to us. But discovering this mechanism that so efficiently links our attention to figure-ground organization is a step toward understanding this amazing machine.

Understanding how this brain function works is more than just interesting: It also could assist researchers in unraveling the causes of and perhaps identifying treatment for visual disorders such as dyslexia.


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Contact: Lisa DeNike
Lde@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University  
Source:Eurekalert

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