Warning, this post is huge! If you don’t like reading large blog posts, you’re advised to avoid this!
The past half hour or so, I’ve been looking at many things… things mostly to do with how the human mind works and percieves things. I have to say, there’s quite an interesting amount of stuff there, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. First of all, we come across this article, which talks about the fact that schitzophrenics are not fooled by the “hollow face illusion”, with an included video. Essentially, the “hollow face illusion” involves — as you may have guessed — a hollow face. The article describes it as:
In the hollow mask illusion, viewers perceive a concave face (like the back side of a hollow mask) as a normal convex face. The illusion exploits our brain’s strategy for making sense of the visual world: uniting what it actually sees — known as bottom-up processing — with what it expects to see based on prior experience — known as top-down processing.
Anyway, it has been shown that those with schitzophrenia are not fooled by this illusion and see the concave face as what it actually is. The rest of us (including myself, which is interesting) see the conclave as a convex face, to the extent the nose sticks out! And even if you know this already, it doesn’t matter; your brain will still percieve the back side as a normal face. I found it interesting that I saw it like most “normal” people do, because I have a type of Autism known as Asperger Syndrome (AS). Now granted, I have been taught to act somewhat normal, but I do wonder if anyone else on the Autistic Spectrum will see things like normal people, or schitzophrenics.
Why I say this is because AS was once considered to be a form of schitzophrenia… see where I’m going with this yet? Good. Anyway, if those on the Autistic Spectrum see things like a normal person, it would mean that Autism Spectrum Disorders affect different parts of the brain to schitzophrenics. That said of course, those who are drunk and under the influence of drugs see through it too, which makes you wonder what parts of the brain intoxicating substances hit, doesn’t it?
Moving onto the magic part of the title now, but still focusing on the mind (this is the underlying theme here, everything in this entry has to do with the way the mind percieves things), we move onto magic! This article talks about magic tricks revealing the inner workings of the brain. And while the face video was interesting, the magic tricks had me enthralled. Yes, I know they’re sleights of hand and optical illusions, but still while they’re happening, you can’t help but be amazed. I’ve always wished I could perform stage magic, but as of yet I haven’t gotten around to learning so for the the time being I’ll watch everyone else do it instead. I can’t get to detailed with the videos, or I’ll ruin the suspension of disbelief involved, so do have a look yourself and comment. One interesting video is here… see if you can work out the trick and also marvel at the new YouTube interactive video feature.
Also be sure to check out Quirkology on YouTube if you have the time. It’s an amazing look at “alternative psychology”, which interests me. Dr. Richard Wiseman, who came up with Quirkology also wrote an article on luck, which featured in a men’s health magazine somewhere. I may actually upload the scans I took of the pages, if there’s enough demand for it, especially as it’s a fascinating article, and also one that got me interested in Dr. Wiseman’s research. It’d be a shame to leave it on my hard drive where no one can view it as it really is a fascinating article. There’s even a quiz at the end too, so I’ll expect people to put their results up (be honest!).
While I could go on about the science of Quirkology, I now want to move onto the gaming part of this entry. While some people may wonder what games have to do with the workings of and on the mind, others have undoubtedly worked out where I’m headed with this. Simply put, games are an immersive experience where suspension of disbelief is required, much like what is needed in magic. However, as this entry is not about games design and playing (which I’ll write about another time), I won’t go too much into the subject of immersion in games. Anyway, the point here that I’m making is that when you get into a game (the more realistic and believeable the game is, the easier it it is to get into), you start to view the main character as an extension of your own. For instance, my mum cannot play Doom, or watch me play it when I’m running around because it gives her motion sickness! Additionally, a lot of people complained about similar while playing Descent, which is more of an… ah… “headfuck”, given the 360 degrees of movement offered to the player. This phenomena is known as Simulation Sickness, and affects people while they play games, usually of the first person variety.
Wikipedia describes Simulation Sickness as this:
Simulation sickness, or simulator sickness, is a condition where a person exhibits symptoms similar to motion sickness caused by playing computer/simulation/video games.
The most common theory for the cause of simulation sickness is that the illusion of motion created by the virtual world, combined with the absence of motion detected by the inner ear, causes the area postrema in the brain to infer that one is hallucinating and further conclude that the hallucination is due to poison ingestion. The brain responds by inducing nausea and mass vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin. According to this theory, simulation sickness is just another form of motion sickness.
The symptoms are often described as quite similar to that of motion sickness. Some can range from headache, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and sweating. A research done at the University of Minnesota had students play Halo for less than an hour, and found that up to 50 percent felt sick afterwards.
In a study conducted by U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences in a report published May 1995 titled “Technical Report 1027 – Simulator Sickness in Virtual Environments”, out of 742 pilot exposures from 11 military flight simulators, “approximately half of the pilots (334) reported post-effects of some kind: 250 (34%) reported that symptoms dissipated in less than 1 hour, 44 (6%) reported that symptoms lasted longer than 4 hours, and 28 (4%) reported that symptoms lasted longer than 6 hours. There were also 4 (1%) reported cases of spontaneously occurring flashbacks”.
I haven’t ever suffered from this myself, but I certainly have been too immersed in a game before! For instance, whenever I play Doom, Quake or any other FPS and get shot at… my immediate reaction is to physically dodge the projectiles, while at the same time doing the same within the game. It’s at this point I have become totally immersed. The reason for this is the realism the game has which is also the reason why people get motion sickness when their character moves fast. Admittedly though, I did feel quite dizzy and a little ill after seeing a video for Mirror’s edge, which is by far the most realistic game to date that I’ve seen. It actually made me want the game, but again that’s another blog entry. Here’s a video of Mirror’s Edge in action, which shows you why I got a bit dizzy, given the way the prespective and character movement is. I’d have looked for more but after twice being stung by a Rickroll when looking for more detailed videos, I’m kind of wary of looking for anything else at the moment… once bitten, twice shy!
Lastly, we go onto something more grounded in reality, and yet still kind of Scifi. A study by the journal Cognative, mentioned in this article showed something rather interesting:
Washington University researchers asked people to identify letters onscreen, and the test subjects fared better with their hands beside the monitor than with their hands in their laps. The presence of their hands apparently improved their vision — and this held true even when when their hands were hidden behind cardboard.
This may partly explain why games actually increase hand-eye coordination. Games also seem to sharpen eyesight, according to an article on Yahoo! Games. This fact doesn’t surprise me however, as I attribute my improved hand-eye coordination to playing masses of games in my youth. Whether or not that turns out to be wasted time overall is yet to be seen, but it certainly helps me write this megapost! Something that strangely enough is related to Mirror’s Edge is this article, which talks about experiencing someone else’s (or even a mannequin’s or other artifical body) body as their own, through the use of cameras. This stuff is both interesting and scary, especially as it talks about humans inhaviting artifical bodies, although this is something that may happen in the future, perhaps after my lifetime. That said, in some instances, it could be useful in some medical applications, at least where this article is concerned as it shows the link between the brain and the body.
As far as the artifical hand experiment goes, this will eventually enable people to eventually have working prosthetic limbs. The other experiment could be used to make more realistic virtual reality games, perhaps also assisting with fine remote control for machines. We certainly seem to be getting closer to the sort of future where you’ll be able to fly around cyberspace and feel it, ala TekWar. Max Headroom and Johnny Mneumonic also come to mind in terms of what could happen.It’s all getting rather cyberpunky now, isn’t it?
Granted, we may not have flying cars less than 6 years to 2015 ala Back to The Future (BTTF), but we’re certainly getting closer to some of the other futures predicted by science fiction movies, books and TV. This is both an amazing and scary thing, depending on what direction this could take. Thinking about BTTF though, I don’t think a lot really changed overall, despite the cars flying and not looking like they do in the film. But, a lot can happen in 5-6 years. I certainly would love to hear Christopher Lloyd’s thoughts when 2015 arrives in reality.
We still have a while to go before we reach that stage though.
Oh, by the way, does it show that I used to do academic writing?
Tags: Biology, Games Stuff, Interesting, Magic, Medical, Psychology, Robotics, Schitzophrenia, Sci Fi, The Future, Tricked!