Does the brain create the present from the past?

The brain is continually bombarded with new visual information. However, our view remains surprisingly stable. Researchers recently conducted a study which revealed that the brain would smooth the visual input over time. A new mechanism, among others, which could explain this illusory stability.

Following experiments, the researchers would have discovered that the brain would not analyze each image at its instantaneous. Indeed, to deal with permanent changes in the visual worldhe would make us “living in the past”.

The study suggests that the brain draws on information from the past to conception of the reality of the present.

The brain, a time machine?

In order to test their hypotheses, the researchers recruited hundreds of people to view thirty-second videos. The tapes showed close-up faces that changed chronologically in age.

At the end, the participants almost always indicated the age of the face presented ten to fifteen seconds earlier. The researchers suggest that the brain refresh time is D’about fifteen seconds.

The brain therefore works like a time machine that continually returns to the past. So instead of seeing the latest image in real time, humans perceive an earlier version. This discrepancy would explain why it is difficult to notice immediately the subtle changes over time.

An essential mechanism for everyday life!

Often the brain sacrifices precision for a smoother viewing experience. Thus, by grouping the objects so that they appear more similar to each other, the brain creates a stable environment. This mechanism is known as “fields of continuity”.

Certainly, in some cases, this lack of absolute precision could be fatal, especially for surgeons. However, the continuity field is essential to life, otherwise the visual world would be chaotic. Indeed, with the number of shapes, colors and movements on a daily basis, the brain would be overloaded with visual information.

By way of illustration, the researchers took the camera of a Smartphone as a comparison. Without the continuity field, the world would look like a full motion video. In addition, since the angle of vision of humans is much wider, the frame fluctuations are more important. As a result, if the brain instantly analyzed every image, humans could be prone to hallucinations.


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