“We never expected this”
As awesome and powerful as the human brain is, it does have a penchant for making things up. In addition to mental illnesses that can cause delusions and hallucinations, we experience things that aren’t really there every single day; we just don’t know it. While the subconscious brain knows what’s really going on with our vision, our conscious brains choose to ignore these deceptions. In fact, we now know that it actually prefers the discrepancies.
Do you believe everything that your brain tells you you’re seeing? You may want to think again!
The World We See
“Perception is not providing us with a [true] representation of the world. It is contaminated by what we already know,” stated Dr. Christoph Teufel of Cardiff University. We get through life believing what we see, but those things may not really be there.
Every functioning human has a “blind spot” in their vision. Redditor Penguillion explains, “Your eye has an inner lining which is made of a sheet of nerves. This sheet of nerves is responsible for your vision and what you see and it is called the retina. There is a ‘hole’ in the sheet where the Optic Nerve enters the eye. This area is called the Optic Nerve Head.”
Where that “hole” is in our vision is really imperceptible because each eye fills in the information for the other one once the visual information is sent to the brain. If your vision is obstructed in one eye, the brain kicks in and tries to fill in that gap with what it thinks should be there. Needless to say… We trust our brain more than reality.
The World We Believe
Professor Peter König further explained the brain’s ability to invent things that aren’t really there, saying, “In such situations with the blind spot, the brain ‘fills in’ the missing information from its surroundings, resulting in no apparent difference in what we see.”
A group of scientists decided that they would experiment with these brain-invented visions to see if the participants could tell the difference between reality and their brain’s invention. Professor König continued, “While this fill-in is normally accurate enough, it is mostly unreliable because no actual information from the real world ever reaches the brain. We wanted to find out if we typically handle this filled-in information differently to real, direct sensory information, or whether we treat it as equal.”
Benedikt Ehinger of the University of Osnabrück told their 100 participants to wear glasses that obstructed their view in one eye then look at a screen that contained two circles of vertical lines; one circle had a small patch of horizontal lines in the center. That latter circle was within their blind spot field. The eye would fill in information for that circle making it appear like it only had continuous lines.
The participants were asked which circle they believed was most likely to have continuous lines. The scientists believed that most people would choose the truly all-vertical circle, but they were shocked when the results came in…