Visual Clues: A Brain “feature,” not a “bug”

You will read in When Your Eyes Tell Your Hands What to Think: You’re Far Less in Control of Your Brain Than You Think that:

You’ve probably never given much thought to the fact that picking up your cup of morning coffee presents your brain with a set of complex decisions. You need to decide how to aim your hand, grasp the handle and raise the cup to your mouth, all without spilling the contents on your lap.

A new Northwestern University study shows that, not only does your brain handle such complex decisions for you, it also hides information from you about how those decisions are made.

“Our study gives a salient example,” said Yangqing ‘Lucie’ Xu, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in psychology at Northwestern. “When you pick up an object, your brain automatically decides how to control your muscles based on what your eyes provide about the object’s shape. When you pick up a mug by the handle with your right hand, you need to add a clockwise twist to your grip to compensate for the extra weight that you see on the left side of the mug.

“We showed that the use of this visual information is so powerful and automatic that we cannot turn it off. When people see an object weighted in one direction, they actually can’t help but ‘feel’ the weight in that direction, even when they know that we’re tricking them,” Xu said. (emphasis added)

I never quite trusted my brain and now I have proof that it is untrustworthy. Hiding stuff indeed! 😉

But that’s the trick of subject identification/identity isn’t it?

That our brains “recognize” all manner of subjects without any effort on our part.

Another part of the effortless features of our brains. But it hides the information we need to integrate information stores from ourselves and others.

Or rather, making it more work than we are usually willing to devote to digging it out.

When called upon to be “explicit” about subject identification, or even worse, to imagine how other people identify subjects, we prefer to stay at home consuming passive entertainment.

Two quick points:

First, need to think about how to incorporate this “feature” into delivery interfaces for users.

Second, what subjects would users pay others to mine/collate/identify for them? (Delivery being a separate issue.)

Comments are closed.