Our Brains decide what to see
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The word: Ambiguity
a.. 26 November 2005
c.. Magazine issue 2527
In the face of equally good visual choices, our brains "decide" what they are seeing, and perhaps gives a glimpse of consciousness at work
OFFICIALLY it's to do with uncertainty or inexactness of meaning, or a lack of decisiveness or commitment resulting from a failure to make a choice between alternatives. Yes?
But there's much more to ambiguity than that. New brain imaging studies shows that visual ambiguity, at least, may be the exact opposite: a state of too much certainty, where we have to distinguish between equally correct interpretations. By studying ambiguity, researchers may find how, in the face of equally good choices, our brains "decide" what we are seeing. They may even catch a little glimpse of consciousness at work.
So what does visual ambiguity look like? A classic example is the Kanizsa cube (see picture)-an optical illusion in which a two-dimensional set of lines suggests a three-dimensional cube. The illusion is created because there are two ways to see the cube: either it seems to come out of the page with ...
The complete article is 573 words long.
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