Brain can plan actions toward things the eye doesn't see

Brain can plan actions toward things the eye doesn't see
Connecting the circles with short lines creates an illusion such that we perceive fewer circles on the right side of the display. But when our brain plans actions to these targets it computes the actual number of targets present. Credit: Jennifer Milne, Melvyn Goodale, et al. (2013). Connecting the Dots: Object Connectedness Deceives Perception but Not Movement Planning. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797612473485

People can plan strategic movements to several different targets at the same time, even when they see far fewer targets than are actually present, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

A team of researchers at the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario took advantage of a pictorial illusion—known as the "connectedness illusion"—that causes people to underestimate the number of targets they see.

When people act on these targets, however, they can rapidly plan accurate and strategic reaches that reflect the actual number of targets.

Using sophisticated to analyze participants' responses to multiple potential targets, the researchers found that participants' reaches to the targets were unaffected by the presence of the connecting lines.

Thus, the "connectedness illusion" seemed to influence the number of targets they perceived but did not impact their ability to plan actions related to the targets.

These findings indicate that the processes in the brain that plan visually guided actions are distinct from those that allow us to perceive the world.

"The design of the experiments allowed us to separate these two processes, even though they normally unfold at the same time," explained lead researcher Jennifer Milne, a at the University of Western Ontario.

"It's as though we have a semi- in our brain that plans and executes actions on our behalf with only the broadest of instructions from us!"

According to Mel Goodale, professor at the University of Western Ontario and senior author on the paper, these findings "not only reveal just how sophisticated the visuomotor systems in the brain are, but could also have important implications for the design and implementation of and efficient human-machine interfaces."

Related Stories

Research determines how the brain computes tool use

date May 08, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—With a goal of helping patients with spinal cord injuries, Jason Gallivan and a team of researchers at Queen's University's Department of Psychology and Centre for Neuroscience Studies are probing deep ...

Recommended for you

The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

date 7 hours ago

Article Spotlight features summaries written in collaboration with authors of recently published articles by the Journals Program of the American Psychological Association. The articles are nominated by the editors as noteworthy ...

Demi Lovato gets vocal about mental illness

date 10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Demi Lovato huddled in the back of her tour bus, eyes wet with tears as she watched a horde of fans streaming into the venue where she was about to play.

Acquiring 'perfect' pitch may be possible for some adults

date 10 hours ago

If you're a musician, this sounds too good to be true: University of Chicago psychologists have been able to train some adults to develop the prized musical ability of absolute pitch, and the training's effects ...

How men and women see each other when online dating

date 12 hours ago

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn't stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RobertKarlStonjek
Jun 20, 2013
"It's as though we have a semi-autonomous robot in our brain that plans and executes actions on our behalf with only the broadest of instructions from us!"

Dualism is not the default scientific view...why has it been evoked here?

'Us/We' includes semi-autonomous processes. This is the correct scientific stances as I understand it...
beleg
Jun 20, 2013
There are equivalent audiomotor model systems in the brain available for 'illusionary' perceptions of sound as well.
Great find.

@RKS
No one evoked a 'default' mode of a scientific view - whatever that means to you.

In hearing the structure is the function - tonotopy.
If you call a structure a process you will have to explained this to dumbfounded readers.

I chose to ignore your take on 'the correct scientific stances' and your 'understanding' of whatever you feel is a 'correct stance'.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.