Assumptions about environment change interpretation of visual stimulus, according to study

A new study investigated that while people tend to notice objects in their range of vision, it is the assumptions they make about their environment that affects their perceptions.

Amsterdam, Netherlands-A new study investigated that while people tend to notice objects in their range of vision, it is the assumptions they make about their environment that affects their perceptions.

The study, led by E.M. Brenner, PhD, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and researchers, sought to discover how people would visually interpret a constantly changing or uncertain environment in the absence of common visual assumptions.

Participants of the experiment were asked to identify the location of a jumping target (a circular green cursor). First the target jumped to different locations within five concentric circles every 250 milliseconds and subjects had to position a mouse cursor at the location where the target had been at the moment of a flash. The second session mimicked this except a tone replaced a flash.

The authors found that participants clearly preferred to select target positions nearer to where their eyes were looking. "Without making assumptions about our environment, our possibilities for interpreting visual stimulation would be quite limited," explained Dr. Brenner. "Presumably, our experience with the world teaches us which assumptions to accept. You are most likely to see something if your gaze is directed at it. Thus, if you saw something you may be biased toward believing that you had been looking at it."