Is your world warped?

A rad wolf

The world we experience around us is made up of lots of different elements, such as edges and textures. These are the ‘building blocks’ that make up our sense of the word, and our perception of them can be detailed – or varied.

The Perception Census is one of the largest scientific studies on perception ever undertaken – exploring how our experiences of the world differ for each of us.  It’s broken down into sections, and we’re going to delve into each of them in this series of blog posts. Our first post introduced the study and broke down the first section, which covers the basics of how we make sense of the world.

Think of resting your hand on a table. To begin with, you feel the table’s surface against your skin. However, over time this sensation gradually fades until you no longer notice it. Why does that happen? It’s all to do with how our brain pays attention to different sensory information to build a detailed picture of the world. 

If we look carefully around us, we find that the everyday things are often built up from more detailed features, like patches of colour, lines at various angles, or textures of different kinds. These are the simple elements from which our perceptual experiences are built up.

Research has shown that identifying these features is a key part of the way our brains create the rich visual experiences many of us enjoy. 

The section of The Perception Census ‘Digging Deeper’ looks at the building blocks of perception.

Some of the tasks you’ll complete in this section are examples of what psychologists call ‘psychophysics’. This type of psychology goes back to the late 19th Century. Pioneering thinkers like Franciscus Donders were interested in what could be learned by closely observing people’s reactions to simple images and sounds. It turns out that these observations reveal quite a lot!

Looking at senses, movement, shapes and more, the experiments in this section of The Perception Census will explore how you – and your brain – process aspects of visual experience. Challenge yourself to discover how detailed – or warped! – your perception can be.

Take part now.

More about The Perception Census:

Learn about the potential of your mind in fun bite-size chunks – a series of games, illusions, brain teasers and mental challenges that investigate different aspects of how you experience the world, teaching you about your powers of perception as you go.

The findings will help scientists and philosophers understand the unique ways in which we each experience the world around us – and the more people who participate, the more useful the research will become. 


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