Motion-induced blindness? Eyes create ‘illusion’ to help see

Motion-induced blindness is a striking visual illusion,in which moving objects can make stationary objects seem to disappear right before one's eyes.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: February 23, 2009 11:23:07 am

Scientists have discovered that our eyes try to improve our vision when they “play tricks on us” a key finding they claim provides new insight into why people sometimes experience “motion-induced blindness”.

Motion-induced blindness is a striking visual illusion,in which moving objects can make stationary objects seem to disappear right before one’s eyes. Previous researches had shown that the brain tried to “rub out” these streaks,by preventing them from reaching our awareness.

Now,an international team,led by the University of Queensland,has found that rather than being just a failure of vision,this illusion is probably caused by a usually helpful process,the ‘Current Biology’ journal reported.

In fact,according to the scientists,the “trickery” actually occurs because of the brain’s attempts to help us see moving objects clearly.

Lead scientist Tom Wallis said “A large part of our brain is devoted to interpreting visual input. Visual illusions can tell us something about how our brain processes what we see,we can learn from our brain’s mistakes.

“In some ways,human vision is a little like a camera with a slow shutter speed. Because of this,objects create streaks when they move. The interesting thing is that most of the time we don’t see these streaks.

“Our experiments suggest that,in this artificial situation,our brain gets confused between motion streaks and stationary objects in a scene. It tries to rub out things it shouldn’t.

“So an illusion that we might think of as a failure of human vision is probably caused by a process that normally helps us to see clearly defined moving form.”

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