Perception – How Do We Really See Things? Day 13 Blog Challenge

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per·cep·tion
pərˈsepSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: perception; plural noun: perceptions
1. the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
“the normal limits to human perception”
the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses.
“the perception of pain”

When I was contemplating what my next post would be about; I dug deep into my mind to conjure up a topic. In doing so, I thought back to when I was a child to develop my story.

Remember revisiting your preschool or kindergarten classroom once you were older, and realizing all those tables and sinks that are normal-sized in your memory were actually miniature? And that the giant hill you used to struggle up is more of a mound?

I had just recently revisited the house that I grew up in that I hadn’t seen since I was a child. My memory of the house and the way the house actually appeared to me as an adult was very different. Of course the house was about 40 years older and more run down, but I took all of that into consideration.

The house shrunk!

Every bit of the glamour and the immensity was gone. Stolen from me. What had the many owners of this house since my father built it, done to it? It was as if they dropped it into a washing machine in hot water! The huge kitchen that I thought we had; and even in old photos seemed ‘huge’, wasn’t huge at all. The fantastic multi-level design my father created seemed menial and off center. The circular drive that I loved so much riding my bike and roller-skating around was not so great after all. I was crushed! My childhood bedroom was the size of a walk in closet! What was my dad thinking when he designed this place?

Or could it be the “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome? A disorienting neurological condition that affects human perception….NO! But close…..We perceive the world around us very differently as adults compared to back when we were kids.
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All of which brings me to “perception”. How we see things as children, or adults and how circumstances and instances in our lives also affect how we perceive the world around us.

There was a recent scientific study that can actually return you to that earlier state, seeing objects and places as we did when we were little. Sound cool huh?

A group of European researchers found that seeing the world through someone else’s eyes is possible—and it can change how we think. By tricking subjects’ brains into thinking they were inhabiting the body of a child, the scientists could actually alter how people perceived objects in their environment. The subjects wore virtual-reality goggles that let them see through the eyes of a virtual body. The avatar’s movements were matched to their own with motion tracking, and subjects could watch their virtual bodies in a mirror while they moved and stretched.

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Although the virtual body matched a subject’s movements, it didn’t match his or her size. The avatars were all miniature people–either a child about four years old, or an adult scaled down to the same height.

With either kind of small body, subjects reported that they felt an illusion that the avatar’s body was their own. Researchers quantified this by having subjects look at different-sized objects in the virtual world and hold out their hands to indicate how wide the objects were.

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Size perception is always tied to the size of your own body, Slater says, so all subjects overestimated the size of the objects they saw. The same thing happened in an earlier rubber-hand study that had subjects inhabiting both tiny and giant bodies.

Although the virtual body matched a subject’s movements, it didn’t match his or her size. The avatars were all miniature people–either a child about four years old, or an adult scaled down to the same height.

But with a child’s body, the effect was significantly greater. The subjects virtually inhabiting a four-year-old’s body perceived objects as even larger than people inhabiting a small adult body did.

The scientists had experienced the illusion themselves as well.  Claiming that it was very powerful and strange to see yourself in a mirror as a small child, maybe stranger, even, than those tiny sinks.

One last thought:

Remember how everyone looked so old to us as kids? They still do!!!

Valerie

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