Now you see me, no, you don’t.

Humans don’t see as sharply for distant objects as we expect.

The psychologists have been using eye-tracking experiments to test their approach. Using the eye-tracking technique, eye movements are measured accurately with a specific camera which records 1000 images per second. In their experiments, the scientists have recorded fast balistic eye movements (saccades) of test persons. Though most of the participants did not realise it, certain objects were changed during eye movement. The aim was that the test persons learn new connections between visual stimuli from inside and outside the fovea, in other words from detailed and coarse impressions. Afterwards, the participants were asked to judge visual characteristics of objects outside the area of the fovea. The result showed that the connection between a coarse and detailed visual impression occurred after just a few minutes. The coarse visual impressions became similar to the newly learnt detailed visual impressions.

“The experiments show that our perception depends in large measure on stored visual experiences in our memory,” says Arvid Herwig. According to Herwig and Schneider, these experiences serve to predict the effect of future actions (“What would the world look like after a further eye movement”). In other words: “We do not see the actual world, but our predictions.”

We see what we expect. The brain plugs in the gaps of our raw perception. Kinda like an optical illusion.
I’ve long believed this, and the best explanation I can come up with is another adaptive function for microsaccades, blurring the rough sections to make the distant objects seem clearer (and more real), in a similar way to a cartoon depicting a human figure.

1. Be civil. 2. Be logical or fair. 3. Do not bore me.

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