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The World We “See” in Our Mind is Not the World Our Eyes and Brain Perceives

Have a look see at this chart used by neuroscientists Fuster, Crick and Koch to wrap your head around the gear-works of visual consiousness. 

Schematic representation of the hierarchical structure of how the brain perceives motor and sensory processing pathways, including the environment.

Our visual cortex doesn’t show us what it sees. Instead, it sneaks maps of reality in front of our consciousness that influences us to do things before we even know what we’re doing.

And those playful neurons in charge of visuals our consciousness sees? (shapes, contrasts, ect.) They’re all coked up – continually remapping the information until it finally reaches our frontal lobes. (conscious awareness).

Not done yet, though.  The frontal lobes decide to make it’s own questionable, at times freshman-like, edits before screening it to our consciousness as objective journalism. 

What we “see” is far removed from what our brain sees.

Illustration of how the brain perceives the world we see, depicting functional areas and connections, highlighting the basal ganglia, cerebellum, limbic system, and cortical regions.

Here’s another way to “look” at it. Our consciousness, in our frontal lobes (where the blue arrows point) is the last in line to react/respond to the world. 

Yet, our thoughts can reshape everything we see and do by sending information (from our imaginary sense of the world) to the rest of the brain and body (red lines).

But at the end of the day, we just can’t consciously see how the world is in actuality. But, I think that’s ok.

A scuba diver with fish swimming around him, showcasing the mental focus required for this simple yet exhilarating activity.

Dive Deeper

The prefrontal cortex--an update: time is of the essence.
Fuster JM. Neuron. 2001 May;30(2):319-33.

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