9 posts tagged perception
People have long seen faces in the Moon, in oddly-shaped vegetables and even burnt toast, but a Berlin-based group is scouring the planet via satellite imagery for human-like features. What’s behind our desire to see faces in our surroundings, asks Lauren Everitt.
Most people have never heard of pareidolia. But nearly everyone has experienced it.
Anyone who has looked at the Moon and spotted two eyes, a nose and a mouth has felt the pull of pareidolia.
It’s “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist”, according to the World English Dictionary. It’s picking a face out of a knotted tree trunk or finding zoo animals in the clouds.
German design studio Onformative is undertaking perhaps the world’s largest and most systematic search for pareidolia. Their Google Faces programme will spend the next few months sniffing out face-like shapes in Google Maps. (via BBC News - Pareidolia: Why we see faces in hills, the Moon and toasties)
Fantasia: A Composer’s Experience of Synesthesia
Composer and synesthete Harley Gittleman visited our institute today to discuss his perception. Synesthesia is when you experience more than one sensory perception in response to stimulation of a single sensory modality. Often, people see numbers as having colors (even when they are uncolored physically, they see specific replicable colors matched to numbers. Estimates are as much as 5% of the population have some degree of synesthesia.
Harley perceives specific colors and shapes when he hears certain tones. That’s especially interesting in his case because he is a professional composer and musician. Harley played some of his wonderful music for us = and pointed to colors as he experienced synesthesia in relationship to the tones, in real time. His daily life is awash in color, motion and shape. He listens only to talk shows when he drives and he’s been known to walk into a wall or two when he absent-mindedly attends to the floating colors and shapes in front of him instead of to the real world.
Current theories suggest that synesthesia is due to wiring between neighboring brain areas that usually are not connected together. This idea is bolstered by brain imaging studies showing increased connectivity and mutual functional activation between neighboring brain areas in synesthetes as compared to non-synesthetes.
Synesthesia might be due to mutations in genes controlling neural plasticity and pruning of neurons. In that case, it may have an adaptive value from an evolutionary standpoint, as it brings new insight and relationships between neural experiences in a way that is interesting and fairly harmless.
Do you experience synesthesia? If so, is it useful to your everyday life? (via Fantasia: A Composer’s Experience of Synesthesia | Sleights of Mind)
Nearly 60 years ago, a decade before the counterculture erupted throughout the United States and beyond, Aldous Huxley described his first experience with psychedelic drugs in The Doors of Perception (1954). The book’s title cast back to the metaphorical language of the English Romantic poet and printmaker William Blake, who wrote in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790):
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.
Huxley likened the human brain to a reducing valve. It functions to limit your awareness to only those perceptions, ideas, and memories that might be useful for your survival at any given moment, eliminating all else.
Although narrowed awareness prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by a flood of images and impressions, it can become an overlearned habit, a self-limiting cavern that you become convinced is reality. But Huxley believed there were ways out:
Certain persons … seem to be born with a kind of bypass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary bypasses may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate ‘spiritual exercises’, or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs.
go read this..
Cognitive brain researchers have studied a magic trick filmed in magician duo Penn & Teller’s theater in Las Vegas, to illuminate the neuroscience of illusion. Their results advance our understanding of how observers can be misdirected and will aid magicians as they work to improve their art. The research team was led by Dr. Stephen Macknik, Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at Barrow Neurological Institute, in collaboration with fellow Barrow researchers Hector Rieiro and Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde, Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience. The study, titled “Perceptual elements in Penn and Teller’s “Cups and Balls” magic trick” was published today, Feb 12th 2013, as part of the launch of PeerJ, a new peer reviewed open access journal in which all articles are freely available to everyone (https://peerj.com/). “Cups and Balls,” a magic illusion in which balls appear and disappear under the cover of cups, is one of the oldest magic tricks in history, with documented descriptions going back to Roman conjurors in 3 B.C. “But we still don’t know how it really works in the brain,” says Macknik, “because this is the first, long overdue, neuroscientific study of the trick.”
The Who asked “who are you?” but Dartmouth neurobiologist Jeffrey Taube asks “where are you?” and “where are you going?” Taube is not asking philosophical or theological questions. Rather, he is investigating nerve cells in the brain that function in establishing one’s location and direction. Taube, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, is using microelectrodes to record the activity of cells in a rat’s brain that make possible spatial navigation—how the rat gets from one place to another—from “here” to “there.” But before embarking to go “there,” you must first define “here.” Survival Value “Knowing what direction you are facing, where you are, and how to navigate are really fundamental to your survival,” says Taube. “For any animal that is preyed upon, you’d better know where your hole in the ground is and how you are going to get there quickly. And you also need to know direction and location to find food resources, water resources, and the like.”
Evolution has tailored the human eye for detecting red, green, blue and yellow in a person’s skin, which reveals areas where that person’s blood is oxygenated, deoxygenated, pooled below the surface or drained. We subconsciously read these skin color cues to perceive each other’s emotions and states of health. Rosy cheeks can suggest good health, for example, while a yellowish hue hints at fear.
Now, researchers have created new glasses, called O2Amps, which they say amplify the wearer’s perception of blood physiology, augmenting millions of years of eye evolution.
See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception
By Madeline Schwartzman
See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception
By Madeline Schwartzman
Interest in design, art, technology, and the psychology of perception, then be sure to read this book. It will permanently alter your understanding of human perception and more. Miss Folly