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kdilliplan's picture

Processing Details

            I’ve been wondering about the benefits of having our nervous systems make up information to fill in the gaps in our sensory inputs.  Is it faster to fill in the gaps in our vision automatically from pre-existing patterns or based on the rest of the image we are seeing?  Is it more efficient? I think it’s mostly beneficial that we’re only able to focus on a small area at a time while our nervous systems fill in the rest of the details.  I’d go crazy if I had to notice every detail of my surroundings at all times.  It would be too much information to process. For instance, as I’m typing this I’m sitting at my desk and there are sticky notes all over it, each a reminder of something else I need to get done. Right now I am very glad all I can see of them are their bright colors and not the words written on them.  I am similarly glad I can’t see what the people around me are writing in their notebooks in class. I can see them writing, and if I were to focus on their papers I could read them, but I don’t need to in order to write my own notes.  We’ve talked about how our senses can’t and don’t relay all possible information about all possible phenomena to our nervous systems and how that means our nervous systems are not perfect and are very limited.  It seems to me that our senses take in too much information at once and that it is in fact the rest of the nervous system that is not adequate to process it all.  

            I’ve also been wondering whether it’s easier to observe details or to ignore them when we don’t need them.  I’m assuming everyone has had the experience of having someone point out a detail that they hadn’t noticed before and subsequently not being able to un-see that detail.  The same thing happens with the other senses, too. I think the importance of details is determined by whether those details have become part of the I-function.  We’ve already pointed out how engaging the I-function can slow and limit the behavior of the rest of the nervous system, and I think this phenomenon is another example.   

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