The Dreamery Tree

When I was in Utrecht a week or so back I found myself walking down a static escalator. Do other people find this as disconcerting as I do? Through a long history of using escalators we build up a model in our mind/body system, a kind of perceptive memory of our engagement with them. When the steps are no longer moving the actual feedback from our senses does not match with that memory and we are thrown out of both mental and physical balance. I mention this to illustrate just how much expectation influences our experience of the world.

If you've never come across the McGurk effect before then I really urge to follow this YouTube link here, from a recent BBC Horizon program. This also is rather disconcerting! The point is that what we see or hear is always an interpretation of the light waves entering our eyes and the sound waves entering our ears, influenced by expectation in terms of past experience. As you can witness from this clip it can often be quite a creative interpretation.

While walking on the moor with TJ last week, I got her to bend over and look at the view from the Badger Stone upside down, through her legs. She's a good sport so she duly obliged and was surprised to find that the landscape was transformed. Everything in the field of view seems more vivid when seen this way. I've talked about this effect before, and I think the explanation lies in the fact that we are subverting the expectation of our perception. Because we are seeing something unexpected, the software creating the image in our head puts more effort into the processing and we get a kind of higher resolution image to view. I know that's not very scientific but that's just how it seems - and the best explanation I can offer!

I think this image has the same kind of effect. I've given it an other-worldly feel to try to engage your perception more deeply. I'd be keen to know if it has worked. I should finally note that this is in lieu of having to describe another frustrating day at the office. I'm not home too late, the sun is shining, and I've volunteered to check the last section of yesterday's route for litter. Catch up with some of you later hopefully.

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