23 March 2016

Seen and unseen

We never see the world as our retina sees it. In fact, it would be a pretty horrible sight: a highly distorted set of light and dark pixels, blown up toward the centre of the retina, masked by blood vessels, with a massive hole at the location of the 'blind spot' where cables leave for the brain; the image would constantly blur and change as our gaze moved around. What we see, instead, is a three-dimensional scene, corrected for retinal defects, mended at the blind spot, stabilised for our eye and head movement, and massively reinterpreted based on our previous experience of similar visual scenes.  All these operations unfold unconsciously  although many of them are so complicated that they resist computer modelling. 
Consciousness and the Brain, Stanislas Dehaene, 2014

Image: Sinbad the Sailor by Paul Klee, 1928

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