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  Books   21 May 2017  Book trail: Reality and perception: how we see the world

Book trail: Reality and perception: how we see the world

THE ASIAN AGE. | SAMUEL SUDHAKAR
Published : May 21, 2017, 2:40 am IST
Updated : May 21, 2017, 2:40 am IST

It is a fact of neuroscience that everything we experience is a figment of our imagination.

In his book, Deviate, world renowned neuroscientist and TED speaker Beau Lotto, takes the readers on a journey of how we perceive things and tries to explain how our own perception works.
 In his book, Deviate, world renowned neuroscientist and TED speaker Beau Lotto, takes the readers on a journey of how we perceive things and tries to explain how our own perception works.

Reality is how we see or interpret things and how we interpret things is a result of how we perceive what we see.

In our daily lives, we assume that what we see, what we hear, what we taste, what we feel — are the correct portrayal of the real world. Here is the truth — nothing is real, everything is perception.

 

What we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like — a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Reality is how we see or interpret things and how we interpret things is a result of how we perceive what we see. In other words, reality is real, but what you see, that’s all in your head. Sensory information and our mental models have a major role in how we perceive the world and things that surround us. As we see, touch, feel, and smell things around us, our brains learn from experience and build models to predict our future interactions with the environment. Perception can cause reality to evolve. Reality is perception.

 

In his book, Deviate, world renowned neuroscientist and TED speaker Beau Lotto, takes the readers on a journey of how we perceive things and tries to explain how our own perception works. Backed by research spanning over two decades, Beau Lotto says that our brains are delusional. All experiences occur in the brain. One can never see reality. Using a combination of case studies, stunning optical and perception illusion exercises Lotto explains how our brains trick us and neuroscience has the answers.  One needs to use these learnings and apply them in our daily lives — and deviate. It will bring a paradigm shift in the way we see things, see ourselves, others, and the world around us.

 

It is a fact of neuroscience that everything we experience is a figment of our imagination. Although our sensations feel accurate and truthful, they do not necessarily reproduce the physical reality of the outside world. Of course, many experiences in daily life reflect the physical stimuli that send signals to the brain. But the same neural machinery that interprets inputs from our eyes, ears and other sensory organs is also responsible for our dreams, delusions and failings of memory. In other words, the real and the imagined share a physical source in the brain.

Stop wherever you are and take some time to look at your surroundings. Are you in a familiar place or somewhere new? Look around for something you hadn’t noticed before and focus your attention on it. If you really focus, it’ll get brighter and more “real” than it was when it was just an unnoticed piece of the background noise of your life.

 

Now, try to view your surroundings from the point of the object. Some people can do this with no effort, and for others, it takes some concentration. Depending on how adept you are at focusing your concentration, you may notice a slight shift in your perception — a weird jump in reality, where you are suddenly viewing the world from a different perspective. Did it work? Whether you noticed anything or not, your perception did change, albeit for an instant. It’s important to be conscious of your perception, because if you’re not, someone else will create it for you.

It is correct that the world we see is a construct created by our brains. So take a lesson from Socrates: “All I know is that I know nothing.”

 

The writer can be reached at gs.sudhakarrao@gmail.com

Tags: brain, environment, neuroscience