Your brain and eyes are two of the most complex organs in your body, and the way these work together to help you see is truly fascinating. Although science has only just begun to understand to really understand the brain and eyes, there are already some incredible facts discovered.
How Vision Works
You eye contains hundreds of millions of working parts which then send information to your brain, enabling you to see. It all starts when light travels through the lens at the front of your eye to what is called the ‘retina’, located at the back.
The retina contains around 107 million cells which are sensitive to light, and allows you to see in different conditions. One cell type, ‘rods’, help you to see better in low light conditions and provide you with peripheral vision (allowing you to get a rough idea of the objects outside your direct vision). The other cells in the retina are ‘cones’, and they give your vision detail and colour.
The light is then transformed into electrical signals, which travel through the optic nerve at the back of the eye to your brain. Your brain processes these signals, and voila! You can see!
All of this takes place in just a fraction of a second.
The Theory of Perceptual Adaption
Perhaps the most interesting (and crazy!) relationship between your brain and eyes is what’s called ‘perceptual adaption’. This essentially means that if you start seeing things in a different way, your brain will adapt so you see it was you normally would. One way to look at this is as a jigsaw puzzle. The information collected by your eyes are the pieces, and then your brain arranges it all so you see correctly.
Now, what would happen if your eyes started collecting information differently, so you see things at an angle? Initially, you’re vision would be at an angle, making it difficult to go about your day-to-day life. However, your brain would then adapt, correcting your vision by accounting for the difference in angle and allowing you to see normally again.
Experiments in Perceptual Adaption
In the 1890’s, a psychologist named George Stratton conducted an experiment. He wore a reversing telescope for 8 days straight, causing his vision to become inverted. However, the amazing thing is that by day 4 he claimed his vision had become upright again. From these results, he deduced that his brain adapted and changed the way it processed the information being sent to it, so that he could see things as he normally would.
The incredible ways in which the brain and eyes interact are endlessly fascinating, and one can only guess at what future investigations will discover.
Katie writes for Lenstore, an online contact lens retailer in the UK. To find out more amazing facts about the eye, take a look at Lenstore’s infographic.