h a l f b a k e r y
The word "How?" springs to mind at this point.
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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]
[JesusHChrist, Nov 23 2007]
Wikipedia: Cognitive Science
[jutta, Nov 24 2007]
mit research - most interesting [xenzag, Nov 24 2007]
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.
||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.
||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.
||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
||// 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.