Researcher Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York says it starts with a neural lag that most everyone experiences while awake. When light hits your retina, about one-tenth of a second goes by before the brain translates the signal into a visual perception of the world.
Scientists already knew about the lag, yet they have debated over exactly how we compensate, with one school of thought proposing our motor system somehow modifies our movements to offset the delay.
Changizi now says it’s our visual system that has evolved to compensate for neural delays, generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. That foresight keeps our view of the world in the present. It gives you enough heads up to catch a fly ball (instead of getting socked in the face) and maneuver smoothly through a crowd. His research on this topic is detailed in the May/June issue of the journal Cognitive Science.
The article goes on to explain that illusions occur because our brains try to perceive the future but reality doesn’t match our perceptions. The question that comes to my mind: Is this something that has evolved or is it one more way we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” ?