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Brain can process images in 13 milliseconds: Study

Written by: QMI Agency
 

Jan. 16, 2014

Diana Martin/QMI Agency


The brain can understand an image shown for just 13 milliseconds - far below the 100 milliseconds previously thought, a new U.S. study has found.

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In a study, researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) asked participants to look for a particular type of image - such as a picnic or a smiling couple - as they viewed a series of six or 12 images. At first, the images were displayed for 80 milliseconds, but the speed was steadily increased to just 13 milliseconds - the fastest the computer would allow.

While overall performance declined as the images were presented more quickly, participants continued to perform "better than chance," the study found.

Senior author of the study Mary Potter said increasing the speed may have been what helped people process the images faster. At the highest rate, subjects were seeing new images more than 20 times as fast as vision typically absorbs information.

The study appears in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics.

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