7 weird facts about how humans see the world

blindness full
Credit: Batke/iStock

It might be the best-studied of all our senses, but surprises about the way our vision works just keep on coming. Recent research has startling and also salutary lessons about how we see.

Your brain makes up a lot of what you “see”

As research published in Psychological Science in 2016 revealed, your brain uses information from the clearly-focused central region of the visual field to fill in detail in the relatively data-poor periphery. In fact, as the lead author, Marte Otten at the University of Amsterdam, commented at the time, “Our findings show that, under the right circumstances, a large part of the periphery may be a visual illusion”.

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Time stops when you blink

For about 10% of your waking hours, your eyes are actually shut, because of blinking. Your brain stitches together retinal information from around these gaps, giving you the impression that your vision is uninterrupted. However, these brief but regular dark moments do have an impact: a study led by Ayelet Landau suggests they cause your sense of the passing of time to stop temporarily. This work, published in Psychological Science in 2019 and covered by me on the Research Digest, shows that processing in the visual cortex influences our perceptions of time.

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