Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Twenty reasons why the human body is amazing

Forget mega-projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the Mars Rover for a moment. Many of the most exciting discoveries in science are being played out in the human body, and every discipline is involved

By Brian Clegg  /  The Observer

In reality, much of the control comes from your unconscious. Some tasks become automatic with practice, so that we no longer need to think about the basic actions. When this happens the process is handled by one of the most primitive parts of the brain, close to the brain stem. However, even a clearly conscious action such as picking up an object seems to have some unconscious precursors, with the brain firing up before you make the decision to act. There is considerable argument over when the conscious mind plays its part, but there is no doubt that we owe a lot more to our unconscious than we often allow.

20. Optical delusion

The picture of the world we “see” is artificial. Our brains do not produce an image the way a video camera works. Instead, the brain constructs a model of the world from the information provided by modules that measure light and shade, edges, curvature and so on. This makes it simple for the brain to paint out the blind spot, the area of your retina where the optic nerve joins, which has no sensors. It also compensates for the rapid jerky movements of our eyes called saccades, giving a false picture of steady vision.

However, the downside of this process is that it makes our eyes easy to fool. TV, films and optical illusions work by misleading the brain about what the eye is seeing. This is also why the moon appears much larger than it is and seems to vary in size: The true optical size of the moon is similar to a hole created by a hole punch held at arm’s length.

This story has been viewed 2378 times.
TOP top