Neuroscientists from Netherlands-based Donders Institute, Radboud University, recently uncovered interesting facts about how the human brain sees the future and takes decision accordingly. As per the results of their study, the visual cortex, a part of the brain so long associated with what one perceives depending upon the information gathered from the eyes, is also responsible for prediction of events in the future.
Simple Experiment to Arrive at Conclusion
In order to arrive at the conclusion, the researchers came up with an experiment in which participants lying under a functional MRI (fMRI) scanner were shown a white dot progressing at a quick pace from the left to the right side of the screen. The pattern of activity in their visual cortex turned out to be considerably similar to the visual dot stimulus exhibited on the screen.
The main experiment, however, started after participants had been shown the sequence of moving dots for a couple of minutes. In the main part, sometimes just the first dot appearing on the left side of the screen was flashed. It was seen that the visual cortex’s activity pattern not just represented the beginning of the dot sequence showing on the screen, but also the remaining sequence of dots not shown on the screen. This shows that the part of the brain helps in shaping expectations about future events and the visual cortex can complete the entire picture with just partial input.
This simplified experiment shows how we predict future events and take actions accordingly, such as in catching a ball or crossing the street after seeing a car coming in our direction.