Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

If The Shoe Flits, Duck: Real-life Example Of Humans' Dual Vision System

Date:
June 16, 2009
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
The reactions of former President George W. Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when an Iraqi reporter flung his shoes toward the two men during a Baghdad news conference confirmed the results of an experiment being conducted by neuroscientists.

Former President George W. Bush starts to duck as the action part of his vision systems detects a shoe coming toward him, but Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki doesn't move because his visual system doesn't see the shoe as a threat.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington

It's rare when real-world events perfectly mirror experiments that scientists are conducting. That's why neuroscientists at the University of Washington were delighted at the reactions of former President George W. Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when an Iraqi reporter flung his shoes toward the two men during a Baghdad news conference.

When Bush ducked and Maliki didn't flinch as the first shoe sailed toward them, it was a real-world example supporting the theory that there are two independent pathways in the human visual system.

"The original idea proposed is that one system guides your actions and the other guides your perception. The interesting part is the 'action' system allows the brain to 'see' things your eyes do not perceive," said Jeffrey Lin, a UW psychology doctoral student and lead author of a paper appearing June 11 in the journal Current Biology. Co-authors are Scott Murray and Geoffrey Boynton, UW psychology assistant and associate professors, respectively.

"When we throw two balls at you with very similar trajectories, they may look the same to your perceptual system, but your brain can automatically calculate which one is more threatening and trigger a dodging motion before you've even realized what has happened," said Lin.

"If you look at the shoe-throwing video you will see that the prime minister doesn't flinch at all. His brain has already categorized the shoe as non-threatening which does not require evasive action. But Bush's brain has categorized the shoe as threatening and triggers an evasive dodge, all within a fraction of a second."

To explore how this dual visual system works, the researchers set up several experiments that were similar to what baseball players experience when they step into the batter's box and get ready for the pitcher to throw the ball. In a split second their action system determines if the ball is going to hit their body and whether to initiate a defensive bail out of the batter's box.

Instead of baseballs, college students participating in three experiments looked at a computer monitor and were instructed to quickly locate a target oval among a field of circular discs, determine its path and press a key when they had found the oval. The key manipulation in the study was that some of the trials began with a looming stimulus at the position of the target oval. When this looming motion was on a collision path with a student's head, the participant responded faster to the target than when the looming motion just missed the head. The experiment showed that a stimulus on a collision path with a student captured attention but one on a near-miss path did not. Critically, subjects could not differentiate between the subtly different collision and near-miss looming stimuli in a separate experiment.

The authors strongly believe the research supports the idea that the human visual system is composed of two independent systems.

"A major focus of neuroscience is understanding how we deal with sensory information," said Boynton. "There is no way the brain can possibly process and analyze everything we are exposed to. We have to select what is important. In the real world you are on your own and what you pay attention to is part of survival. This experiment shows that threatening stimuli grab your attention, even those we can't consciously identify. That this is more accurate than our conscious perception is pretty amazing."

The research was funded by the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health.

Video on youtube.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "If The Shoe Flits, Duck: Real-life Example Of Humans' Dual Vision System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611120736.htm>.
University of Washington. (2009, June 16). If The Shoe Flits, Duck: Real-life Example Of Humans' Dual Vision System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611120736.htm
University of Washington. "If The Shoe Flits, Duck: Real-life Example Of Humans' Dual Vision System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611120736.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins