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Thread: The wierdness of Perception

  1. #1 The wierdness of Perception 
    Forum Bachelors Degree Waveman28's Avatar
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    Perception seems to be a very strange and totally unexplained phenomena at present. Firstly, try to imagine a totally different colour. You will find this to be impossible simply because our imagination is limited by the things we have already experienced. Now, I want to know if our brain can "see" new colours that we have never deen before. So allow me to give a quick review of how humans "see" the outside world.

    Light waves travel from a distant object and enter our eyes, where they interact with photoreceptor cells in our retina, where they are converted into electrical pulses. These pulses travel through the optic nerve until they arrive at the visual cortex, where they are "interpreted" by the brain. Now, different wavelengths of light will generate different electrical pulses in the retina and this is what allows us to distinguish between these different wavelengths. However, our photoreceptor cells can only interact with a very small band of wavelengths, and above or below a certain wavelength value, they are unable to generate electrical pulses at all. So therefore, our interpretation of the outside world is not necesarily limited by our brain, but rather by our eyes.

    This got me thinking. If we were to hypothetically connect up a device to the optic nerve which could produce artificial electrical pulses which our eyes cannot, how would our brain interpret these signals? Would we "see" a totally different "colour"? Could this experiment open up a different view of the world to us, and possibly revolutionise our understanding of the way we observe our universe? Does anybody here have any idea what would happen in this experiment?


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  3. #2 Re: The wierdness of Perception 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waveman28
    Perception seems to be a very strange and totally unexplained phenomena at present. Firstly, try to imagine a totally different colour. You will find this to be impossible simply because our imagination is limited by the things we have already experienced. Now, I want to know if our brain can "see" new colours that we have never deen before. So allow me to give a quick review of how humans "see" the outside world.

    Light waves travel from a distant object and enter our eyes, where they interact with photoreceptor cells in our retina, where they are converted into electrical pulses. These pulses travel through the optic nerve until they arrive at the visual cortex, where they are "interpreted" by the brain. Now, different wavelengths of light will generate different electrical pulses in the retina and this is what allows us to distinguish between these different wavelengths. However, our photoreceptor cells can only interact with a very small band of wavelengths, and above or below a certain wavelength value, they are unable to generate electrical pulses at all. So therefore, our interpretation of the outside world is not necesarily limited by our brain, but rather by our eyes.

    This got me thinking. If we were to hypothetically connect up a device to the optic nerve which could produce artificial electrical pulses which our eyes cannot, how would our brain interpret these signals? Would we "see" a totally different "colour"? Could this experiment open up a different view of the world to us, and possibly revolutionise our understanding of the way we observe our universe? Does anybody here have any idea what would happen in this experiment?
    That is done quite regularly in a slightly different manner. Take a look an almost any of the photographs from orbiting telescopes. They are typically presented in "false color" which is a way of showing features recorded at wavelengths other than the usual visual wavelengths. Astronomers have long used wavelengths outside of what our eyes can see directly to probe the cosmos.


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  4. #3  
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    I think he means to create a device that could send a new signal to our brain for each of those electromagnetic wavelengths that our eyes don't react to. I think he has the idea of creating an electrical signal unique to, say, infrared light, and having that signal sent to our brain. I think this is a question better suited in bio or new hypothesis, because this has more to do with human limitations and perceptions than actual physics.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think he means to create a device that could send a new signal to our brain for each of those electromagnetic wavelengths that our eyes don't react to. I think he has the idea of creating an electrical signal unique to, say, infrared light, and having that signal sent to our brain. I think this is a question better suited in bio or new hypothesis, because this has more to do with human limitations and perceptions than actual physics.
    I know what he had in mind, but false color images do exactly that. They create a signal from infrared, ultraviolet, x-ray or radio signalst that is converted to a stimulusl (visible color) that results in the sending of a signal to the human brain.

    It may not have wires directly to the visual cortex, but the result is similar.

    BTW the same principle applies to ordinary night vision devices.
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    say that we did have this technology to let us see these 'New' colours what part of the human body would we be "upgrading?"
    and how so would we do this?

    and are our bodies like 'motherboards' for computers as such?
    like, if we 'upgrade' the 'processor' (Brain, optic nerve, visual cortex, etc) for the optic nerve then wont we have to 'upgrade' other parts of the body to see these new waves as well??

    like if we update our eyes, then wont we have to upgrade our nerves to be able to transfer what we "see" from our optic nerves to our visual cortex to our brains to "see" these 'new colours'?

    like if we 'upgrade' one part of our brain.... do we have to upgrade all parts of our brains??

    does this also mean that we are all 'narrow-minded' people? seeing only a limited range of colours?

    this got me thinking too!



    *thinking* does this also mean that we can 'Generate' "New Colours" becuase all we have to do is fiddle with the frequency of the light waves??
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  7. #6  
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    Humans are products of evolution. Our eyes, nerves, brain, etc.have all evolved in unison. They don't have an independent existence from eachother.

    Our brain could no more see new colours than a black and white TV would display in colour if receiving a colour signal.

    The implication of your question has been pondered in scientific circles for quite some time. Will man ever actually 'understand' the matter and energy around us? We can write formulas and use words like 'quadrillion' and so on but what do they actually mean to the us when we have physical limitations in perception? Do we really understand Relativity, the Quantum world...or do we simply understand the logic of descriptions of these phenomena. We understand fomulas that make sense but not the physical matter and energy these formulas are describing. Most happenings in the universe are on a scale either too small or too large for our perception...and too fast or too long a time period.
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  8. #7  
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    This is more physiology than physics, so I am moving this to biology.
    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
    The heated mind resents the chill touch & relentless scrutiny of logic"-W.E. Gladstone


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