A new study has found that our brain can see even in pitch dark. Using a computerised eye tracker, scientists found that 50 per cent people can see the movement of their own hand even when it is pitch dark.
"Seeing in total darkness? According to the current understanding of natural vision, that just doesn't happen," says Duje Tadin, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester who led the investigation.
"But this research shows that our own movements transmit sensory signals that also can create real visual perceptions in the brain, even in the complete absence of optical input," said Tadin.
The authors carried out five separate experiments which involved 129 individuals. They found that this eerie ability to see our hand in the dark suggests that our brain combines information from different senses to create our perceptions.
The ability also "underscores that what we normally perceive of as sight is really as much a function of our brains as our eyes," said first author Kevin Dieter, a post-doctoral fellow in psychology at Vanderbilt University.
For most people, this ability to see self-motion in darkness probably is learned, the authors conclude. "We get such reliable exposure to the sight of our own hand moving that our brains learn to predict the expected moving image even without actual visual input," said Dieter.
The study was published in journal Psychological Science.
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