August 1999 Issue

Is What You See What You Get?

Knowing how your eyes work can help determine strategies for scanning and cockpit lighting

Visual perception starts with a complex image analysis done by neurons in the eye. That data is sent to the brain, which interprets information from the eyes by using information gained from prior experience (and some fancy processing tricks). Unlike a photograph, where what you see is what you get, real life visual perception hinges largely on things that are inferred.

Consequently, you can be fooled fairly easily when you place yourself in environments and circumstances that violate the visual “rules” that you learned through prior experience. Sometimes the fooling around can be fun, as with textbook optical illusions. Other times however, vision can fool you into a tragic mistake.


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