The world we perceive is a construct, in a very real sense our minds create reality. For example, perspective is an illusion that we accept – we know objects in the distance are not as small as they seem. These notes document a 28 day study of human perception and cover all types of sensations, even those beyond the five basic senses. I’ve included observations, where possible, on potential Web usability strategies. Inspired by Matt Cutts’ TedTalk Try something new for 30 days – an excellent learning project tool.

Perception 28 notes

What reality are you creating for yourself?
Isaac Lidsky’s introspective TedTalk explains that reality isn’t something you perceive and challenges us to accept the responsibility of being the creators of our own reality.

Vision: The limits of vision
This article looks at some of the standard metrics for framing the limits and capabilities of vision.

Vision: Tracking moving objects
This post examines the process, evolution, and importance of how our eyes and brain construct perception to tack moving objects.

Vision: Field of view
Field of view is the angular extent of what the eye can see. This article examines visual field of view for different animals (predator and prey), i.e., peripheral and binocular vision.

Vision: Shades of gray
This article looks at how photoreceptor cells rods help us see shades of gray and what it means to our visual perception.

Vision: Color
Color is a complex and varied perception. This post looks at how our eyes and brains process color to let us perceive up to 10 million colors.

Vision: Saccadic eye movements
A saccade is a quick, simultaneous movement of both eyes allowing them to accurately “refix” on an object in the visual field, and change retinal foci from one point to another.

Vision: Gaze detection
Our perception is often framed by social interaction. “Gaze detection,” sometimes known as the “Psychic staring effect,” is the sense that someone is looking at you.

Synesthesia is a blending of two or more senses simultaneously perceived into one anomalous event – a cross-wiring between brain areas that’s segregated in neurotypical individuals.

Quantum perception
A Photon of light is very small. The wavelength of green light is about 500 nanometers, (~two thousandths of a millimeter). That begs the question: why don’t photons just go right though us?

Smell (Olfaction)
Our sense of smell is probably our “oldest” sensory system – it has a very long evolutionary history. It also may demonstrate sensory perception of quantum states.

Taste is an enigma, a fusion of experiences for our brain made up of taste, smell, site, sound, and texture. A series of sensory intakes, yet one single sensation, a reverse Synesthesia.

Our sense of touch opens our minds to a wealth of sensations about our world and is so precise that we can perceive a bump of 1/25thousanth of an inch with our finger tips.

The human ear contains 20,000 sensors, the smallest bones in the body,  can hear between 15 to 18,000 cycles per second, and detect impulses as short as 20 microseconds long.

Balance – Equilibrioception
Every step we take dances on the edge of disaster – one miscalculation, one misstep and we fall. Balance is a sixth sense and a crossmodal sense.

Magnetoception is the ability to detect magnetic fields. We known that birds, bees, sharks, stingrays, and others animals can detect magnetic field, but can humans?

Proprioception is “the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium;” it lets you know where your body is, how it is oriented, and how it is moving.

Apophenia is the perceptional phenomena arising from a search for meaning in the world (stimuli in the sights, sounds, and information noise we’re flooded with from moment to moment).

We are constantly bombarded by sight, sound, touch, taste, an smell, our brain creates a picture of reality, but under stress edits out information that it doesn’t consider essential.

Sensory Overload
We are constantly bombarded by sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, which our brains use to create a picture of reality, but also edit to leave out what they don’t  consider essential.

Sensory Deprivation
Sensory deprivation is the purposeful stifling of sensory stimuli (either partially or in full), usually for multiple senses through simple methods, i.e., blindfolds, earmuffs, and dark rooms.

A hallucination the perception of stimuli in the absence of stimuli. They are vivid, substantial, and usually perceived as external, but not always “real.”

Dream State Perception
Dreams are rich, sensorimotor hallucinations that seem so real at times that they make us question the reality of waking consciousness.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Many issues cause the sensory anomalies, but one of the most interesting is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome which distorts perception to make objects appear very small or large.

Chronoception – Time Perception
Time is a very important concept to us, our lives are framed by and hang on the perception of it. Chronoception refers to the subjective experience of time.

Perception and Memory
Perception and memory are constructive and re-constructive processes. We experience the world, assume we’re seeing it in real time (smoothly) as it currently exists, but that’s not true.

Consciousness is very difficult. “There’s nothing we know about more directly … but at the same time, it’s the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe.”

How far can we augment human senses and are there new senses on the horizon?