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A.Kyan's picture

I'm Okay with Gaps

In 1957, Walter Penfield established a map of the human body in the brain.  Different areas of the cortex were assigned to process different areas of the body.  A study carried out by researchers at Vanderbilt a few years ago found the cortical map to be a reflection of our perceptions, not the physical body.  When we experience illusions like we did in class, we think we’ve been tricked.  Research conducted by Roe, et al., claim these illusions are a result of how the brain is organized to process all the info it receives from our senses.  Roe's research used the tactile funneling illusion to explore how the brain processes touch.  An individual perceives simultaneous touches to multiple locations on an area of skin as a single touch at the center of that area. "The brain is reflecting what we are feeling, even if that's not what really happened."  It seems the brain is integrating sensory activity based on its circuitry. (

Since learning our brains have gaps/holes and that it doesn’t relay authentic information, it doesn’t surprise or bother me.  My take on it is that the brain has become more efficient by having these gaps.  If you don’t need it, why have it?  Referring to the physics lab with Mary Jane (I’m in that torturous lab, too) we learned that we only have 3 colored cones in our eyes (made up of red, green, and blue).  Yet this simple combination of 3 colors allows us to perceive all the colors in the world.  Why clutter our eyes with a gazillion colored cones when we don’t need them?  Who’s to say magenta isn’t a real color because we don’t have the corresponding anatomical part to sense it?  To Mary Jane, magenta isn’t real because she’s just a computer and doesn’t have the cross-wiring like we do to make complicated, integrative connections.  Maybe we’ve become so evolved that we can process information without having everything spelled out.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making false conclusions, it may just be that we are more advanced than we thought, and yes, better fit for survival.  Which is why technology may be emulating us in the realm of TV screens and LCD lights.  TV screens are made of the same 3 colors as our visual cones to produce all the images on our favorite shows and movies.  Ever notice the AMTRAK building or Boathouse Row along the Schuylkyll River?  Those LCD lights only consist of the same 3 colored bulbs as our eyes to produce all the great colors and patterns they display. 

I’m inclined to believe that our brains don’t give us a play-by-play of reality because it’s not necessary.   Instead, our brains give us a nice summation of what’s going on around us through an evolved circuit of cross-communication among the senses. 



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