Humans ignore motion and other cues in favor of a fictional stable world

Feb 21, 2006

Would you notice if all the objects around you simultaneously moved farther away? In a virtual-reality laboratory in Oxford, researchers have obtained the puzzling finding that humans can be "blind" to changes like this.

Computer-generated vision has shown that viewing a scene with two eyes, or walking around it, provides enough information to calculate its 3D structure. To find out how far away things are by this method, however, requires knowledge of the separation of the eyes or the distance walked. There is good evidence that the human visual system uses both these pieces of information when making judgments of 3D size, shape, and distance.

In the new work, performed at the University of Oxford, Dr. Andrew Glennerster and colleagues use an immersive virtual-reality display to show that the human visual system cannot be carrying out the same type of 3D reconstruction that is used in computer vision.

People experiencing the virtual-reality display failed to notice when the virtual scene around them quadrupled in size as they walked around, and, as a result, they made gross errors in judging the size of objects. Intriguingly, these results imply that observers are more willing to adjust their estimate of the separation between the eyes or the distance walked than to accept that the scene around them has changed in size. More broadly, these findings mark a significant shift in the debate about the way in which the brain forms a stable representation of the world--that is, the world as it is perceived to exist independent of head and eye movements.

Source: Cell Press

Explore further: Financial decisions: Older adults' lifetime of acquired expertise offsets declining ability to process information

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Particles, waves and ants

Nov 26, 2014

Animals looking for food or light waves moving through turbid media – astonishing similarities have now been found between completely different phenomena.

Researcher explores drone-driven crop management

Nov 25, 2014

A flock of pigeons flies over the soybean field where J. Craig Williams is standing. He reaches down and rips off a brown pod from one of the withered plants and splits it open. Grabbing a tiny bean between ...

Using 3D printers to print out self-learning robots

Nov 12, 2014

When the robots of the future are set to extract minerals from other planets, they need to be both self-learning and self-repairing. Researchers at Oslo University have already succeeded in producing self-instructing ...

Recommended for you

Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

4 hours ago

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Decision cascades in social networks

6 hours ago

How do people in a social network behave? How are opinions, decisions and behaviors of individuals influenced by their online networks? Can the application of math help answer these questions?

The psychology of gift-giving and receiving

9 hours ago

Gift exchanges can reveal how people think about others, what they value and enjoy, and how they build and maintain relationships. Researchers are exploring various aspects of gift-giving and receiving, such as how givers ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.