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The brain can process images seen for just 13 milliseconds

January 17, 2014 | Telepresence Options

MIT_brain_illustration

Story and images by MIT / Kurzweil

MIT neuroscientists have found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds -- the first evidence of such rapid processing speed.

That speed is far faster than the 100 milliseconds suggested by previous studies. In the new study, which appears in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, researchers asked subjects to look for a particular type of image, such as "picnic" or "smiling couple," as they viewed a series of six or 12 images, each presented for between 13 and 80 milliseconds.

"The fact that you can do that at these high speeds indicates to us that what vision does is find concepts. That's what the brain is doing all day long -- trying to understand what we're looking at," says Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and senior author of the study.

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