Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 16 submissions in the queue.
posted by charon on Thursday May 18, @05:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the illusions-michael dept.

Humans treat 'inferred' visual objects generated by the brain as more reliable than external images from the real world, according to new research published in eLife.

The study, from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, reveals that when choosing between two identical visual objects -- one generated internally based on information from the blind spot and an external one -- we are surprisingly likely to show a bias towards the internal information.

To make sense of the world, humans and animals need to combine information from multiple sources. This is usually done according to how reliable each piece of information is. For example, to know when to cross the street, we usually rely more on what we see than what we hear -- but this can change on a foggy day.

"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," says senior author Professor Peter König, from the University of Osnabrück's Institute of Cognitive Science. "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."


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough

Mark All as Read

Mark All as Unread

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 1) by arcz on Thursday May 18, @05:26AM

    by arcz (4501) on Thursday May 18, @05:26AM (#511551)

    Since the pattern is generated in the brain, it is likely to perfectly match the surroundings, thus always appearing continuous. The reason the blind spot image is preferred could have to do with the amount of information being processed, ie the mental image for the blind spot has more clarity than the real one because of limited detail perception of the eyes vs unlimited detail for imagined images perhaps?

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @06:43AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @06:43AM (#511563)

    Confirmation bias is a beautiful thing.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday May 18, @02:20PM

      by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @02:20PM (#511685) Journal

      Confirmation bias is a beautiful thing.

      That's what I thought, too. Yes, this particular example is a pretty "low-level" processing thing in the brain (or, at least, that's probably how we'd term it, even though what the brain is doing is quite sophisticated).

      But generally speaking, humans tend to place more weight on their "inferred" beliefs than empirical data (both direct sensory data and abstract data as in stuff collected for an experiment), and in fact we frequently tend to -- generally unconsciously -- try to make any data mold to our existing beliefs, hence confirmation bias.

      TFA seems to agree:

      The team's interpretation is that subjects compare the internal representation (or 'template') of a continuous stimulus against the incoming sensory input, resulting in an error signal which represents the mismatch. In the absence of real information, no deviation and therefore no error or a smaller signal occurs, ultimately leading to a higher credibility at the decision-making stage.

      In other words, stuff in the "blind spot" is stuff the brain KNOWS is true (because it's generated internally, so it IS the mental representation by definition), so it doesn't need to think about it. Processing actual data takes more effort. This seems akin to most human concepts and beliefs: once you've come to a conclusion about how the "world works" and how your internal model ("template") represents it, that's basically how you interpret all future incoming data. Data that conflicts or is falls outside this model is implicitly judged as less reliable. Seems to me that this principle could be extended to political or religious beliefs (which are basically complex "templates" for interpreting the world), etc. just as well.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by ledow on Thursday May 18, @07:21AM (6 children)

    by ledow (5567) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:21AM (#511578) Homepage

    Seems to have worked well enough for several million generations.

    I reckon the brain probably knows what it's doing in most cases.

    • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:12AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:12AM (#511590)

      Religion worked well enough for thousands of years, but these days you smug snakes deride the soft headed idiots who believe in the magical sky fairy. The brain invented religion, so which is it, hypocrite? Do you have faith in the brain or don't you?

      • (Score: 2) by linkdude64 on Thursday May 18, @03:17PM (1 child)

        by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @03:17PM (#511704)

        Religion is something the ego of man invented over thousands of years, once nature took him from literally dirt, up to an upright sapien that could conceive of the universe.

        Which is more convincing of possessed talent?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:27PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:27PM (#511749)

          I like the dogmatic style of dismissive statements about religion.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @06:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @06:32PM (#511778)

        but these days you smug snakes deride the soft headed idiots who believe in the magical sky fairy.

        You know, "The Smug Snakes of Aleroth" would be a great name for a rock band. (w/apologies to Dave Barry.)

      • (Score: 2) by ledow on Thursday May 18, @07:47PM

        by ledow (5567) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:47PM (#511803) Homepage

        Call me when there's an active religion several million generations old, and we'll talk.

        Best we can manage is a few thousand.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday May 18, @05:40PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @05:40PM (#511755) Journal

      Not much of an evolutionary cost for false positives.

      If you think the tiger-shaped rock is a tiger and book it. You're fine. If you the the rock-shaped tiger isn't, and don't, you're dead.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Thursday May 18, @07:32AM (2 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) on Thursday May 18, @07:32AM (#511582) Journal

    "I thought I saw a Puddy-tat!"

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:24AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:24AM (#511593)

      Trump is orange like Garfield but Trump tweets like Tweety Bird. It's so confusing I don't know what to infer from these conflicting facts. Help me Jebus!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @06:29PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @06:29PM (#511776)

        Chris Matthews is usually identified as "Tweety", something to do with a big yellow head. He also worships power, no matter who has it, which makes him a very, very bad journalist. Question is, who is Sylvester?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @09:58AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @09:58AM (#511612)

    Select all squares that should contain street signs. Want an easier challenge?

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Thursday May 18, @10:06AM

    by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Thursday May 18, @10:06AM (#511617) Journal

    The first thing that popped into my head after reading the summary was the SEP field [wikipedia.org] from The HitchHikers Guide.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by harmless on Thursday May 18, @11:44AM

    by harmless (1048) on Thursday May 18, @11:44AM (#511637) Homepage

    I think the experiment doesn't reflect real world experience very well. We are not normally looking at static imagery; we move around, we look around, so nothing is in the blind spot for long. In this scenario the brain will fill in what was there a fraction of a second ago.
    That's probably more reliable then actual sensory information, since in nature stuff usually doesn't just (dis)appear in fractions of a second. On the other hand it is quite likely that something is interfering with visual perception; a reflection, some speck of dust in the eye etc.
    So it seems perfectly sensible to rely on the internal model first.

    Of course if you don't have real data to fill in in the first place (by using technology to make things appear out of nowhere), that approach is going to break down.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @12:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @12:49PM (#511664)

    Not mentioned in tfs is a basic difference in the way that data can be "made up": Interpolation means filling in points where there is data all around the area where the made-up data is created. In the case of physical experiments this is normally "safe" as long as the spacing between data points is not too far and the process being measured is relatively linear. In the case of the blind spot in the eye, it usually works OK, but there are well known experiments that show how to hide something (nonlinear visual field) briefly in the blind spot.

    Extrapolation is generally more "risky" (less likely to be true) when extending existing data beyond the range of the measured or known data. Continuing the example for the eye, this would be like inventing a scene behind your head where the eye has no data.

(1)