Cool eyeball science
March 28, 2001 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Cool eyeball science Quick summary of interesting research on the output of the eyeball. 3 really cool things: 1, we know much more about the output of the eyeball now than a few years ago; 2, they've got a neural network doing visual processing like the eye; 3, most of what you see your brain makes up!
posted by daver (8 comments total)
OK, this is creepy.

What we see can't really be described as reality, it's more of a mutually agreed upon fabrication.

Heavy . . . it's a good thing I didn't read this article back when I used to "indulge" in various substances. It most certainly would have resulted in many wasted hours, and perhaps a full blown "freak out".
posted by aladfar at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2001

As i keep telling people, when you see a tree it's only a tree because of mass consensus.
posted by Zool at 5:08 PM on March 28, 2001

Too bad the Nature article is off limits (costs $7.00 to read). So much for the free flow of ideas in science.
posted by jrbender at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2001

Yes, I agree. I was actually looking at the subscription rates before being distracted by *gasp* WORK.

The most interesting part for me is not so much the mass consensus thing as this: When you and I consciously see something it's already undergone a tremendous amount of processing. We commonly assume that we only act on what we consciously 'see', because that's the first time we 'see' it.

Looks more and more like there's a lot of 'seeing' that happens well before you 'see' it in the theater of your mind...
posted by daver at 6:20 PM on March 28, 2001

On the topic of eye studies, the UC Davis Neurological Eye Simulator is pretty neat. If you're into eyes, that is. It's a nice manifestation of Flash being used for good, rather than merely eating bandwidth.
posted by Hankins at 8:15 PM on March 28, 2001

"most of what you see your brain makes up!"

Yeah? Tell that to the dancing purple monkeys, man!!!
posted by whatnotever at 8:24 PM on March 28, 2001

Some guys doing vision research at a university wrote a computer program that used a special sensor to track what word in a screenful of text your eyes were looking at. Then it randomly changed words you weren't looking at to words of the same length. It never changed a word you were looking at while you were looking at it. Without exception, the person whose eyes were being tracked had the impression that the screen was not changing at all. Of course, observers whose eyes weren't synced to the subject's found this very amusing because it was perfectly obvious to them that the screen was changing almost constantly. They would all refuse to believe that they wouldn't notice it if they were sitting in the chair with the eye tracking sensors trained on their eyeballs. Then they'd sit down and say, "Okay, you can turn it on now" -- but it was already turned on.

The part of your retina with which you do most of your seeing (because it has the highest dencity of image receptors) is called the fovea. Vision researchers use the verb foveate to talk about pointing that part of your retina at a subject. I love that word and go to great lengths to work it into conversations. "I'll foveate you later."

While initial research into artificial eyes will probably focus on replacing existing vision for people who have lost it, I hope eventually we'll be able to buy super-eyes. I wanna buy a pair of Zeisses with a 4X foveal density.
posted by kindall at 9:07 PM on March 28, 2001

Yes, I've always loved this paradox. When you see white lettering on a black background, it may very well be teal on brown. Now how gauche is that?!
posted by fooljay at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2001

« Older Certain things like this   |   WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, COULD YOU REPEAL THE GENEVA... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments