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Fooled by Our Brain

July 26, 2011

If you think you have eagle eyes, the video above may prove you wrong. Something changes over the course of the sequence but can you pick up what it is? You’ll probably be surprised by the reveal at the end of the clip and wonder how you missed such an obvious shift.

Created by Kevin O’Regan and his team at Paris Descartes University, the animation is an example of our blindness to certain slow changes. According to the researchers, there are two main factors that determine what we notice in our environment. First, we tend to focus our attention on the most interesting elements of a scene. In this case, the base of the merry-go-round may not be the most attention-grabbing part of the picture. In addition, we are more likely to perceive objects or changes that don’t fit with what we expect to see. Once we’ve made sense of a scene, we look out for the unusual.

Previous theories have suggested that we make sense of our environment by creating internal representations of the outside world, which are updated as we take in new important details. But according to O’Regan, demos like this suggest that we may simply rely on external information. Since the outside world is constantly accessible to us, it would be overkill to constantly modify an internal model. In this video, the intermediate changes don’t need to be committed to memory.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 9:09 am

    I came across a similar test on youtube about blind spots. Sometimes when you focus in on something you will miss out on others. This is also very true within dynamic situations. When you focus in too much on the things you suspect, you probably will miss out on the unexpected. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB_oEknhlW8

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