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Brain Language

reverse engineer neural visual compression algorithm
  [vote for,

The two links below make me think that your visual system runs a compression algorithm to be able to resolve visual dots when they get to be too many per unit space. The first link is to a video of a regular compression algorithm and the second is to a picture which if you stand about 15 feet away from the computer you can get a little buzzing visual effect at the center which I am guessing is a compression algorithm in my brain that is doing the same thing as in the video. So couldn't you just play around with this kind of visual effect and somehow measure or reverse engineer what the compression algorithm your brain uses is?
JesusHChrist, Nov 23 2007

video http://www.youtube....watch?v=uNNfrLuem9w
[JesusHChrist, Nov 23 2007]

image http://patricktimon...pression14-full.jpg
[JesusHChrist, Nov 23 2007]

Wikipedia: Cognitive Science http://en.wikipedia...i/Cognitive_science
[jutta, Nov 24 2007]

Hybrid Images http://cvcl.mit.edu/hybridimage.htm
mit research - most interesting [xenzag, Nov 24 2007]

Visual Science http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~smgxscd/
Here's someone who works on how the brain understands images, and the pages one hop down give you some ideas of the different mechanisms. See the "Clinical" section for a real-life use of optical illusions in research. [jutta, Nov 24 2007]


       I don't have to get fifteen foot away to get that effect - I get it at eighteen inches.
normzone, Nov 23 2007

       Quite a lot is known about the processing of data in the visual system already. The retina does a lot of pre- processing. The visual cortex works in a really weird way (for example, some areas detect motion rather than the moving objects; others detect colours but not form; others detect edges but not colours - make sense of that!).   

       There's not really "compression" as such - it's more a case of handling large amounts of very poor-quality parallel data, extracting as many different types of information from it as possible, and synthesizing the rest to give you the impression that you're seeing clearly.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 23 2007

       That's basically the definition of lossy compression, [MB]. You take good data, turn it into crap, and when decoding, infer the missing data from the crap.
Spacecoyote, Nov 23 2007

       Yes, but there's no good data in the first place. The eye is one of nature's miracles: it's a miracle nature didn't do better. It generates a large amount of crap data, which is expanded (rather than compressed) before being dumped onto the visual cortex, which expands it further by adding redundancy and making up any missing bits.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 23 2007

       // So couldn't you just play around with this kind of visual effect and somehow measure or reverse engineer what the compression algorithm your brain uses is?   

       As MaxwellBuchanan points out, it's a little more complicated than just a simple "compression algorithm". In general, you're on the right track. The academic field you describe is called "Cognitive Science". (Vision is only a small part of it; another important one is language.) Cognitive Scientists are, as you predict, inordinately fond of optical illusions, because they point to the way the brain's visual processing centers work.
jutta, Nov 24 2007


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