In the current issue of the journal Cognitive Science, researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Sussex argue that the brain’s adaptive ability to see into the near future creates many common illusions.Makes sense to me. For more perceptual puzzles, check out Blind Spots.
“It takes time for the brain to process visual information, so it has to anticipate the future to perceive the present,” said Mark Changizi, the lead author of the paper, who is now at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “One common functional mechanism can explain many of these seemingly unrelated illusions.” His co-authors were Andrew Hsieh, Romi Nijhawan, Ryota Kanai and Shinsuke Shimojo.
One fundamental debate in visual research is whether the brain uses a bag of ad hoc tricks to build a streaming model of the world, or a general principle, like filling in disjointed images based on inference from new evidence and past experience. The answer may be both. But perceptual illusions provide a keyhole to glimpse the system.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Back to the Future
A recent article posits that our brain has an underlying mechanism behind all optical illusions, namely, the ability to see into the "near" future: