Monday, July 7, 2014

Blink of an Eye

It’s hard to keep up with the rapid advances of brain research. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, MIT neuroscientists found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds—the first evidence of such rapid processing speed—which works out to seventy-five frames per second. This is far faster than the 100 milliseconds suggested by previous studies. In the new study, which appears in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, researchers asked subjects to look for a particular type of image, such as “picnic” or “smiling couple,” as they viewed a series of six or twelve images, each presented for between thirteen  and eighty milliseconds. “The fact that you can do that at these high speeds indicates to us that what vision does is find concepts. That’s what the brain is doing all day long — trying to understand what we’re looking at,” says Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and senior author of the study.

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