In recent research conducted at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, scientists have made a significant discovery about how our brains process social interactions, such as observing someone else’s actions.
This study suggests that our perception is heavily influenced by our expectations, rather than solely by the visual information we receive.
Traditionally, it was believed that when we watch someone perform an action, our brain processes the information in a sequential manner. However, the new study challenges this notion about human perception.
The findings were groundbreaking. When actions were shown in a predictable sequence, the brain increasingly relied on its motor system to predict what would happen next. Essentially, what we expect to happen next shapes what our brain perceives.
“What we would do next, becomes what our brain sees,” explained senior author Christian Keysers. This contrasts sharply with the classical model of information flow from visual to motor areas.
Seeing what we expect to see
This shift towards a predictive brain model indicates that our brains are not just passive receivers of sensory input. Instead, they actively generate predictions about what will happen next, and these expectations can suppress the actual sensory input.
This phenomenon allows us to perceive the world as we expect it to be, unless our expectations are violated, prompting us to become aware of the actual sensory input.
The study’s findings contribute to a broader understanding within neuroscience about how our brains function. It suggests that we perceive and interact with the world based more on our internal expectations and predictions than on the external stimuli we encounter.
This paradigm shift in understanding brain function and human perception opens up new avenues for exploring how we engage with the world around us.
The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
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