Some people have the superpower of seeing more images every second

Some people have the superpower of seeing more images every second


New research shows that some people are able to see more “images per second” than others, meaning they are naturally better at noticing or tracking fast-moving objects such as tennis balls.

The speed at which our brains can differentiate between different visual signals is called temporal resolution and affects the speed with which we are able to respond to changes in the environment, writes The Guardian.

Previous research has shown that animals with high temporal resolution vision tend to be fast-paced species, such as carnivores. Human studies have also shown that this trait tends to decline with age and temporarily disappears after intense exercise. However, it was unclear how much it varied among people of the same age.

One way to measure this trait is to determine the point at which a person stops perceiving flickering light as flickering and instead perceives it as a constant or stationary light. Clinton Harlem, a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin, and colleagues tested this on 80 men and women aged 18 to 35 and found wide variability in the thresholds at which it occurred.

A study published in Plos One found that some people reported the light as being constant when in fact it was flashing about 35 times per second, while others were still able to detect flashes at more than 60 times per second.

Haarlem says: “We think that people who see flicker at a higher frequency generally have access to slightly more visual information in a given period of time than people at a lower level of perception.”

Professor Kevin Mitchell, a neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin who led the study, said: “Because we only have access to our own subjective experience, we may naively expect everyone else to experience the world in the same way as we do. This study characterizes one such difference. Some people really seem to see the world faster than others.”

The study also found that temporal visual resolution was relatively stable across individuals over time, and that there was little difference between men and women.

While it’s unclear how such differences might affect our daily lives, Haarlem suspects that elite athletes and professional gamers may have higher-than-average image resolution over time.

“We believe that individual differences in perceptual speed may emerge in high-speed situations where there may be a need to locate or track fast-moving objects, such as in ball sports, or in situations where visual scenes change rapidly, e.g. , in competitive gaming,” he said.

“They can have an advantage over others before they even pick up a racquet and hit a tennis ball or pick up a remote control and go to some fantastic online world.”

One unresolved question is how trainable this personality trait is. While people’s reaction speed can improve with practice, it is thought to be related to how long it takes them to react to something after their brain has visually perceived it.

Harlem notes: “It’s more like information coming in from the beginning. At this stage, we don’t really know much about where these changes come from or what they are related to. This could be due to our eyes or the brain filtering information.”


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