Category Archives: Perception

June 15

Your Brain, the Liar

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Thinking machines, like those portrayed in HBO’s Westworld, use new information from their environment to update their beliefs about the world and take action to further their goals. For all such machines, the success of that process of integrating new input is limited by their hardware, […]

January 19

Through the Looking-Glass, and What the Brain Sees There

  She complained of recurrent attacks during which she feels that her body is growing larger and larger until it seems to occupy the whole room. “I feel,” she said, “that I have got so big that if I put out my hand I could touch the far wall.’ Less frequently, she feels that she […]

September 30

To See, but not to See

In 2008, a man shocked researchers when he successfully walked through a hallway cluttered with boxes, trash cans, and other junk without stumbling into anything. That may not seem terribly impressive (particularly if you’re used to navigating through a messy bedroom every night), but here’s the catch: that man was blind. That man, known as […]

March 17

We Are All Actually in the Matrix

I’m not kidding: you, me, and everyone else are actually in the matrix. But it’s not quite the same matrix as in the movie “The Matrix.” We are (probably) not being grown and harvested by robots who (somewhat inexplicably) have chosen to use us as a power source.

No, I’m talking about your brain. Your brain is your own personal matrix. It enables your consciousness, your sensations, your positive and negative feelings.

It lies to you. All the time.

Let me show you.

September 17

Singing in the [B]rain

Music has always wielded a disconcerting power over me. In times of overwhelming emotions, listening to a sad song or playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat on the piano has propelled me into cathartic fits of sobbing. Songs with escalating intensity and complexity (such as San Fermin’s Parasites) have made me feel as if a wave […]

April 09

You Do Have a Sixth Sense – and More!

Ever wish you had more than just five senses? Sure, it’s cool to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste the world, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to sense other things? Perhaps you would prefer X-ray vision, telepathy, the ability to tell the future, or maybe you want to see dead people (or […]

January 29

time keeps on slippin’

A few nights ago I made the mistake of baking lasagna while extremely hungry. Each tick of the timer reverberated inside my skull for what seemed like hours, and the cheese just refused to melt. Later that same night I accidentally stayed up until 2 in the morning absentmindedly watching hours of YouTube videos that […]

July 10

Cortical Columns

“I swear I put it down right here,” he thought to himself, “right next to this column.” He looked up; there were many columns. Towering, Ionic pillars draped with sheer golden cloths loomed over him. They were geometrically ordered in rows of hundreds, perhaps thousands.[1] “Where did – “ he stopped mid-thought to look around. […]

June 28

Synesthesia: The sky, the number 7, and sadness are all blue

If you were shown the shapes below and told that one is called a “kiki” and the other a “bouba,” which name would you attribute to which shape? Between 95 and 98% of people agree that the more rigid shape is “kiki,” and the curvy one is “bouba.” This is not because they learned these names […]