Everything You See Is From 15 Seconds in the Past, New Research Claims

Last Update: April 12, 2022 at 7:46 pm

DATE:  April 11/22

SOURCE:  Popular Mechanics


Everything You See Is From 15 Seconds in the Past, New Research Claims


  • new experiment reveals that our vision is up to 15 seconds behind real time.
  • Our eyes smooth out how we see the world, but scientists don’t fully know how.
  • This experiment helps narrow it down to an idea called “serial dependence.”

Open the camera app on your phone and start recording a video. Place the screen right in front of your eyes and try to use the live footage as a viewfinder. Tricky, right? The shapes, colors, and motion in the video are jarring. Scientists say this exercise is a close approximation of the messy visual data that our eyes constantly bombard our brain with. So how exactly do we see without feeling dizzy or nauseated?

In a new paper published last month in the journal Science Advances, researchers from the University of Aberdeen and the University of California, Berkeley describe a “previously unknown visual illusion” that helps us smooth out what we see over time.


“Instead of analyzing every single visual snapshot, we perceive in a given moment an average of what we saw in the past 15 seconds,” the authors note in a piece published in The Conversation, a website where scientists routinely detail their latest work. “So, by pulling together objects to appear more similar to each other, our brain tricks us into perceiving a stable environment. Living ‘in the past’ can explain why we do not notice subtle changes that occur over time.”

This “illusion of visual stability” is an idea that may require a bit of explaining before it makes intuitive sense. Consider our eyes’ ability to focus on items some distance away, remaining stable in their ability to “lock on” to objects in their path. Now, think about what happens to your eyeballs, themselves, while they’re focused; they must move all around in order to maintain that smooth feeling while they focus on objects off in the distance—like a gyroscope that always remains upright…


FULL STORY:  Everything You See Is From 15 Seconds in the Past, New Research Claims (msn.com)