What we see in the periphery, just outside the direct focus of the eye, may sometimes be a visual illusion, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings suggest that even though our peripheral vision is less accurate and detailed than what we see in the center of the visual field, we may not notice a qualitative difference because our visual processing system actually fills in some of what we “see” in the periphery.
“Our findings show that, under the right circumstances, a large part of the periphery may become a visual illusion,” says psychology researcher Marte Otten from the University of Amsterdam, lead author on the new research. “This effect seems to hold for many basic visual features, indicating that this ‘filling in’ is a general, and fundamental, perceptual mechanism.”
As we go about daily life, we generally operate under the assumption that our perception of the world directly and accurately represents the outside world. But visual illusions of various kinds show us that this isn’t always the case. As the brain processes incoming information about an external stimulus, we come to learn, it creates a representation of the outside world that can diverge from reality in noticeable ways.
Otten and colleagues wondered whether this same process might explain why we usually feel as though our peripheral vision is detailed and robust when it isn’t.
“Perhaps our brain fills in what we see when the physical stimulus is not rich enough,” she explains. “The brain represents peripheral vision with less detail, and these representations degrade faster than central vision. Therefore, we expected that peripheral vision should be very susceptible to illusory visual experiences, for many stimuli and large parts of the visual field.”
Source & further reading:http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/illusion-reveals-that-the-brain-fills-in-peripheral-vision.html#.WOjp51WGPIX