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Your Deceptive Mind Part 3: “Errors of Perception”

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By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents part 3 of the 24-part Great Courses series Your Deceptive Mind, entitled “Errors of Perception, at 5:30pm, Thursday, July 12, at the Center, Callejón Blanco 4.

This lecture will explore the ways in which humans can be deceived by what we think we perceive and by what we miss. It will cover phenomena such as attentional blindness, change blindness and optical illusions.

You cannot trust anything you think you see or perceive. There are simply too many flaws in the ways our brain constructs these perceptions. Our brains actively construct a picture of what is going around us based on a tiny fraction of all the sensory input that’s coming in, which introduces many opportunities for distortions and errors.

Optical illusions are the simplest way of demonstrating the constructed aspect of our perception. Generally, objects in our world appear to be stable and accurate with respect to reality. This property is constancy. Optical illusions represent an exception to constancy. This is because the brain has to make assumptions about what’s likely to be true and processes information based on those assumptions. When incorrect, an optical illusion occurs.

We see things that are not there when our brain constructs our perception and fills in lines or connections where it thinks they should be based on assumptions. Our brains will compare different types of sensory input in order to construct one seamless picture, and it will adjust one sense or the other in order to make things match.

Attention is immensely important to the notion of perception because we are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of sensory information. We cannot possibly pay attention to even a significant fraction of it—let alone all of it—at the same time. We filter out most sensory information that reaches us and pay attention to only what our brains deem important. Inattentional blindness describes the notion that we are blind to things we are not attending to. Change blindness refers to times we fail to notice dramatic changes in our environment.

The course is presented by Steven Novella, MD, academic neurologist at the Yale School of Medicine. He is host and producer of the award-winning podcast, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. He writes a regular column for Skeptical Inquirer. He maintains a personal blog, NeuroLogica Blog, covering news and issues in neuroscience, philosophy of science, critical thinking, and the intersection of science with the media and society. Dr Novella is the founder and senior editor of Science-Based Medicine, a group medical and health blog.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.

Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Video Presentation

Your Deceptive Mind Part 3: “Errors of Perception”

Thu, Jul 12, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950


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