New York, Jan 16 (IANS): In as less as 13 milliseconds, the human brain can process a dozen images flashed in front of you!
A team of neuroscientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds - the first evidence of such rapid processing speed.
That speed is far faster than the 100 milliseconds suggested by previous studies.
The fact that you can do that at these high speeds indicates that what vision does is find concepts, said the study appeared in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics.
"That's what the brain is doing all day long - trying to understand what we're looking at," said Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and senior author of the study.
Researchers asked participants to look for a particular type of image - such as 'picnic' or 'smiling couple' - as they viewed a series of six or 12 images - each presented for between 13 and 80 milliseconds.
To their surprise, the MIT team found that participants performed better and better as the researchers dropped the image exposure time from 80 milliseconds to 53 milliseconds, then 40 milliseconds, then 27, and finally 13 - the fastest possible rate with the computer monitor being used.
At the highest rate, subjects were seeing new images more than 20 times as fast as vision typically absorbs information.
According to the study, the job of the eyes is not only to get the information into the brain, but to allow the brain to think about it rapidly enough to know what you should look at next.
"In general, we're calibrating our eyes so they move around just as often as possible consistent with understanding what we're seeing," added Potter.
The research also suggests that while the images are seen for only 13 milliseconds before the next image appears, part of the brain continues to process those images for longer than that.
The researchers are now investigating that how long, visual information presented so briefly, can be held in the brain.