Paradox of perception: Human brain remembers visual features in reverse order than it detects them
Scientists at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute have contributed to solving a paradox of perception, literally upending models of how the brain constructs interpretations of the outside world. When observing a scene, the brain first processes details-spots, lines and simple shapes-and uses that information to build internal representations of more complex objects, like cars and people. But when recalling that information, the brain remembers those larger concepts first to then reconstruct the details-representing a reverse order of processing. The research, which involved people and employed mathematical modeling, could shed light on phenomena ranging from eyewitness testimony to stereotyping to autism.
This study was published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The order by which the brain reacts to, or encodes, information about the outside world is very well understood," said Ning Qian, PhD, a neuroscientist and a principal investigator at Columbia's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. "Encoding always goes from simple things to the more complex. But recalling, or decoding, that information is trickier to understand, in large part because there was no method-aside from mathematical modeling-to relate the activity of brain cells to a person's perceptual judgment."
Source: Paradox of perception: Human brain remembers visual features in reverse order than it detects them