Scientists find that the human brain can ‘see’ the future


A study by neuroscientists at the University of Glasgow concluded that our brain is capable of predicting the immediate future, making use of predictive analysis of reality and observed objects.

It happens that the eyes move to observe the environment with a frequency of four times per second, and they do so before the brain can process the information provided.

The process is quite similar to that used by cars with autonomous driving systems, which learn to predict what will happen during the trip based on the observations they make of the surrounding space.

Scientists were able to determine that our brain generates predictive models, based on similar memories and situations.

Thus, the information generated in the cerebral cortex, the region responsible for processing visual information, allows us to predict events in the immediate future.

In the study, now published in Scientific Reports, experts made use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and optical illusions in order to understand what exactly happens in our brain when we ‘see’.

Scientists analyzed the so-called brain feedback input, which is the neurological process where our brain transmits information to the eyes.

Experts found that our brain creates predictions based on memories of similar actions.

”Visual information is received from the eyes and processed by the visual system in the brain. We call visual information “feedforward” input. At the same time, the brain also sends information to the visual system, this information is called “feedback”.

“Feedback information influences our perception of the feedforward input using expectations based on our memories of similar perceptual events. Feedforward and feedback information interact with one another to produce the visual scenes we perceive every day,” said co-author Gracie Edwards.

The study, “Predictive feedback to V1 dynamically updates with sensory input”, was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and a Human Brain Project grant.

You can read the full paper here.


Featured image credit: Shutterstock

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