Researchers have created a visual illusion in order to demonstrate a little brain trick called postdiction. It has been nicknamed the ‘Rabbit Illusion’. It highlights the brain's tendency to 'fill in the blanks' and makes us perceive things differently to how they actually were.
Focus on the middle of the screen
You need to listen to the bees and pay attention to the number of flashes at the bottom of the screen.
Count the number of flashes you see.
Next you need to watch for the number of flashes when there are no beeps played.
If you saw three flashes, pay attention to where you saw the second flash. The majority of people who took part in this research saw the second flash between the first and last flash. In reality though, there were only 2 flashes and not 3. You see the brain assumes that it has missed a flash because it has paired a flash with the sound of beeps so by having a beep not accompanied by the flash, the brain thinks there must have been a flash that it missed.
Postdiction refers to something that occurs in the past. In the above example, our brain has perceived an event to occur differently from how it actually happened. The brain can get confused and fills in the blanks so to speak. Post diction is often taken into account for eyewitness testimonies for legal trials. It is often thought that the jury measures how confident a person is when giving testimony. Research however has shown that the level of confidence doesn’t necessarily mean accuracy. What is more interesting is that a lot of people are not purposely lying, they are giving an account of what they saw based on what their brain remembers. It is here the lies the problem.
Another example of the above is the Cutaneous rabbit illusion. Using something sharp a person would very quickly poke their wrist a few times rapidly and then their elbow at a fast rate. The subject however feels the sensation of the pricks walking their way up the arm where in reality, they were only pricked at the wrist and elbow. Again in this instance, the brain has filled in the blanks. It shows that this phenomena is heavily influenced by our senses. When you look at paranormal investigating for example, a lot of people rely on their senses while doing an investigation. Does this mean that our personal experiences were not as they seem? We are not lying, we are stating what we felt and experienced at the time, however did we actually experience it in that way or is our brain making us think we did?
Obviously first and foremost it means that we shouldn't be entirely relying on eyewitness testimony. While it is information that you should take on board, it should not form the basis of your investigating. An area as a whole should be treated equal and investigated accordingly. It also means that perhaps we ourselves are perceiving an event differently from how it actually happened. This works as well with false memories. So if we cannot trust our brains who can we trust? Video does not lie. I think using a video camera to document an investigation is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you can have. It is not there to spot possible apparitions. It is there to give you a realistic and unbiased account of what has actually happened. You may be surprised to find what you have experienced is a little different to what the camera has caught. That's ok, it is just your brain trying to fill in the blanks. Perception is NOT reality.
Did you do the test above? Did you see three flashes? Postdiction at work! (Yes I saw 3 flashes)
* Test and information from Caltech (California Institute of Technology)
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