Brain Games

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Sun­day, 7.30pm, National Ge­o­graphic This new science se­ries is quite ground­break­ing in its in­ter­ac­tive gam­ing de­sign — you re­ally can play along in real time — and it is ex­cel­lent at point­ing out how ev­ery­day lack of fo­cus and inat­ten­tion causes po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic mis­per­cep­tions. The great achieve­ment is that host Ja­son Silva, pic­tured, makes find­ing out about the lim­its of per­cep­tion enor­mously en­ter­tain­ing. In this de­but episode, Fo­cus Pocus, Silva and his team con­cen­trate on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the eye and the brain. A psy­cho­log­i­cal con­cept known as inat­ten­tional blind­ness causes us to miss things hap­pen­ing right in front of our eyes. Along with the cute games, in­clud­ing one in which fe­male par­tic­i­pants re­move their tops (do I have your at­ten­tion now?), there is a good amount of science. For ex­am­ple, the fovea, the part of the eye re­spon­si­ble for sharp cen­tral vi­sion, ac­counts for just 5 per cent of the sur­face of the eye but 50 per cent of the brain’s vis­ual cor­tex is de­voted to what the fovea de­liv­ers, which is why we see what we fo­cus on with laser-like high-def­i­ni­tion res­o­lu­tion. The re­main­ing 95 per cent of the eye — used for pe­riph­eral vi­sion — is very low res­o­lu­tion, ‘‘ like a mo­bile phone cam­era from 1998’’. So, can you trust what you think you see?

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