Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Your Brain Sees More Than You Think

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor


Your brain sees and does more than you know, according to a new study that points to the mysterious workings of the unconscious mind.


To come to this heady conclusion, scientists had to zap the brains of healthy volunteers (and rather brave ones, we might add) and temporarily shut down the part of the brain that processes visual information. For a fraction of a second, a pulse of energy called transcranial magnetic stimulation shut down each person's visual cortex. That's the part of the brain known to process what we see.


The volunteers stared at a computer screen during this moment of blindness while a simple image flashed for an instant.


See that?


The scientists then asked the study subjects if they had seen a horizontal or vertical line in one test, and a red or green dot in the other. All nine of them said they'd seen nothing each time.


When asked to guess what they'd seen, however, they did significantly better than 50-50.


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