The brain predicts what moving eyes will see

September 2, 2009

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, has found that the brain predicts the consequences of eye movement even before the eyes take in a new scene.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, has found that the brain predicts the consequences of eye movement even before the eyes take in a new scene.

The study published in the Journal of Vision asked subjects to move their eyes to a clock with a fast-moving hand and report the time immediately. The average reported time was 39 milliseconds before the actual time. As a control, the clock was moved instead of the eyes and the average reported time was 27 milliseconds after the actual time.

The results of study reveal a moment in time when things are not perceived as they actually are. It is thought that the prediction is a result of remapping, where neurons involved in visual perception become active or dormant in order to help the brain maintain stable vision.

“Remapping allows locations to be continuously represented across the eye movement by maintain both current and expected locations simultaneously, facilitating the transition between the two,” stated the report.

The authors, including lead researcher Amelia Hunt PhD, believe that further research is required to examine under what circumstances predictive processes occur, what function they serve and how much they influence our perception of events.