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

June 19, 2013, Association for Psychological Science
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."

Explore further: People attribute minds to robots, corpses that are targets of harm

Related Stories

People attribute minds to robots, corpses that are targets of harm

June 17, 2013
As Descartes famously noted, there's no way to really know that another person has a mind—every mind we observe is, in a sense, a mind we create. Now, new research suggests that victimization may be one condition that leads ...

Researchers can predict future actions from human brain activity

June 29, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- Bringing the real world into the brain scanner, researchers at The University of Western Ontario from The Centre for Brain and Mind can now determine the action a person was planning, mere moments before ...

Research determines how the brain computes tool use

May 8, 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 ...

Weight of object not an issue when determining left or right-handedness

October 21, 2011
More than 90 per cent of the world’s population exhibit a strong preference for using their right hand, as opposed to their left, for grasping and lifting everything from car keys to coffee mugs. The cause of this near-global ...

Study finds 'owning' a darker skin can positively impact racial bias

May 14, 2013
Scientists from Royal Holloway University have found that when white Caucasians are under the illusion that they have a dark skin, their racial bias changes in a positive way.

Recommended for you

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

How past intentions influence generosity toward the future

January 17, 2018
Over time, it really is the thought that counts – provided we know what that thought was, suggests new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect

January 17, 2018
Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet 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
not rated yet 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.