Why do our eyes play tricks on us?

February 23rd, 2009 - 1:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Feb 23 (IANS) Researchers are providing insight into why our eyes sometimes play tricks on us.
Motion-induced blindness is a striking visual illusion, in which moving objects can make stationary objects seem to disappear right before your eyes.

The University of Queensland (UQ) team, from the School of Psychology, has shown that rather than being a failure of vision, this illusion is probably caused by a process that is usually helpful.

The researchers believed the “trickery” occurred because of the brain’s attempts to help us see moving objects clearly.

PhD candidate Tom Wallis and supervisor Derek Arnold conducted studies that included showing participants displays of moving and stationary dots on a computer screen, and asking them to press buttons to indicate when the stationary objects seemed to disappear.

“A large part of our brain is devoted to interpreting visual input. Visual illusions can tell us something about how our brain processes what we see. We can learn from our brain’s mistakes,” Wallis said.

“In some ways, human vision is a little like a camera with a slow shutter speed. Because of this, objects create streaks when they move. “The interesting thing is that most of the time we don’t see these streaks,” he added, according to an UQ release.

“Our experiments suggest that, in this artificial situation, our brain gets confused between motion streaks and stationary objects in a scene,” Wallis said.

The research findings were published in the journal Current Biology.

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