Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Your Mind's Eye
12 July 2013

Your Mind's Eye

Close your eyes and imagine an umbrella. Now open your eyes and choose which of these umbrellas best matches the image you had in your mind’s eye. This is part of a ‘vividness task’ used by researchers exploring how we see things. Short or long-sighted people were more likely to imagine a blurred (top row, centre) or black and white (top row, right) umbrella compared to people with flawless vision. As people with less-than-perfect eyesight were more likely to create less-than-perfect mental images (even if they wear glasses or contact lenses), it supports the theory that we use the same parts of the brain to ‘see’ both real and imagined objects. So, should you be concerned if you chose a blurred image? Not really – it seems that people with vision problems use other strategies for gathering information to help compensate for their poor eyesight.

Written by Sarah McLusky

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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