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Lauren McD's picture

What is reality?

I find it interesting that now we are discussing specific senses, such as sight, in class and how they are linked to the nervous system. 'Seeing' is something we all take for granted; we rarely think about the complicated processes that must occur in order for us to see. And even if we do think about these processes, we usually think about them in the simplistic way of information from the outside world being perceived by the eyes and sent to our brains for interpretation. However, as demonstrated in class this week, the information trail has many more twists and turns. There is a location on the retina that cannot receive any input because it is where the optical nerve connects to the eye. What we actually 'see' on this area of the retina is an image our brain creates for us. Instead of seeing a blank spot everywhere we look, our brain interprets the lack of information and fills it in for us. It figures that the most likely thing in that space is what is surrounding it. This may not be obvious in a normal setting because our eyes move so much that we truly do see the whole picture. But in experiments such as conducted in class, it is easy to discover that our brain really does fill in missing information in our vision with the most probable image: that of the background. There are advantages and disadvantages to this extraordinary function of our brain. For example, something truly important or dangerous could be undetected, leaving us vulnerable to it. On the other hand, the image we see makes more sense if there are no 'blank' areas. We would constantly move our eyes to try and discover what should be in the missing area. If our brain fills it in for us, we hardly notice that anything's missing at all.

This begs the question if what we perceive is truth. From the discussion in class, we discovered that sometimes our brain lies to us, distorting our vision from truth. Who's to know what is truly in our world if we can only interpret it through human eyes? It's a slightly far-out, but interesting thought that the world may be truly and completely different from what we perceive. Humans automatically think that what they perceive must be true. But perception is only one view of the world. For example, dogs don't see in color, but we do. Is their reality any less true than ours is? Some people may say 'yes,' that humans have the most accurate perception of the world and dogs are missing key information. But to dogs, their interpretation of the world is reality. Why are we any different? Unfortunately, we are left pondering ideas that we can never find the answer to.


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