It’s as it seems to be

Vision is the dominant sense for most people, I dare say, even if I do remember my old grade school teacher telling he’d rather be blind than deaf. This week we looked into vision. I found the lecture stimulating and the discussion about split brain patients and the separate informing of right and left brain lobes utilizing the outer edges of visual field intriguing. It appears when the connection between right and left hemisphere is cut – the corpus callosum severed historically to treat epilepsy – both halves develop autonomous consciousnesses which may have conflicting interests. This has been found out in studies where the right hemisphere has been instructed to do something without the knowing of the left hemisphere and then the person (incl. both hemispheres) has been asked to explain the motivation for acting according to the instruction. The left hemisphere seems to be the one capable of forming speech and, surprisingly, very capable of doling out nonsensical explanations even without any knowledge for the real motivation. This amazing capability of fabricating post hoc explanations for our behavior is proposedly one of the mechanisms causing us to believe in free will even when we become conscious of our decisions only after the brain has already made the decision.

Vision carries a great reality effect, i.e. we intuitively believe things are as they seem. This, of course, is rather silly from the point of view that our vision is very limited (we only see a tiny sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum), subjective (among human population we see different things differently, and compared to other animal species, even more so), and prone to illusions, as was demonstrated in the lecture. Or maybe its analogous to Orwell’s Animal Farm: we all see the same thing the same way, some just see them more same way than the others? By the way, the dress was blue stripes on gold and the sneaker pink with white stripe! 😊

What wonders me, given the huge resources dedicated to vision in the human cortex, is how those resources are utilized in those people that are born blind?

Posted by Tapio Saarinen

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