Do Our Brains Keep Us in the Past?

We don’t often think about our ability to perceive depth and color when observing the world; for us it is second nature. We also don’t realize just how much information our brain filters out to provide a stable field of view. The amount of information that our eyes take in on a day-to-day basis would overload the brain. To combat this, during periods of low movement, the brain takes segments of time and averages out the information provided by our eyes, compensating for the natural shakiness of the human body. This gives us a smooth view of the world that would otherwise overwhelm or cause vertigo. Thanks to a new study conducted by professors at Berkeley and Aberdeen Universities, we now have better insight into how our brains accomplish this. 

They asked hundreds of participants to look at close-up videos of human faces aging over time. After watching the video, the subjects were asked to approximate how old the face in the video was at the end. On average they gave a number that correlated to the face shown 15 seconds earlier in the video, not the one at the end. This concluded that subtle changes in our perception occur on roughly that amount of time, our brains average 15 second periods of time to give us a stable view. Acute changes such as an object being thrown towards us get updated more frequently, but changes that occur over longer stretches of time get simplified. 

 While this process has its benefits, it means that our brains gloss over a lot of minuscule details in trying to prevent visual clutter. This can cause us to miss important changes if they are too subtle for our brains to pick up.  

To check out the study for yourself, click here.

Or, click here, to read past Lenox Laser blogs about new research.