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Medical With eyes closed or in a dream do we see video-like movements?

  1. Aug 15, 2016 #1
    We see real movements, we see videos, we see still photos. When we close our eyes and try to visualize some events like my son is running or sea wave or storm etc. do we visualize the movements or images with a very low frame per second(fps). In dream also we see so many events but are those still images or video like ? The main query is in our perception with eyes closed at what fps our brain shows us scenes ? I tried to visualize Bolt running by closing eyes but don't feel that i see movement at all. It seemed several still images.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2016 #2
    Why assume everyone is the same?
  4. Aug 15, 2016 #3


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    AFAIK, we do not see or visualize in discrete frames per second. There is no sampling clock involved.
  5. Aug 15, 2016 #4
    The visual cortex in a human brain is quite a large part of it, as it is with other mammals .
    It has of course been studied as far as possible, but I don't think there are any studies which suggest it works in any way similarly to a digital video system.

    I just got out of my chair to get something to eat, a fairly commonplace function of a brain, and requiring visual recognition of objects.
    There was no noticeable frame rate..
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  6. Aug 15, 2016 #5
    When I was a kid, I used to do something I thought was kind of neat. I'd take a glass a water (out in the back yard) and throw the water up out of the glass and then close my eyes shut. For a lingering period of time, all I saw was the still image of the scene, the last still image, right before my eyelids closed. I did this with other scenes as well, but I liked the throwing the glass of water up in the air the best because it was easy to recognize that indeed I was freezing this frame in my mind because I could see a frozen chaotic and complicated configuration of the fluid flow. That complicated form was burned into my mind's eye definitively as a "frame" of sensory perception, much like the frame in a movie film reel. So, yes, I think this is what perception is like; it is a series of individual static frames sequenced together to form what we may otherwise perceive to be a smooth sensory episode. And there is a good deal of empirical support for this model from studies of EEG patterns in the cerebral cortex, see, for example:


    Edit: Oh, and to add, you asked about the frame rate. Well, that depends on what level of cortical hierarchy you are talking about. If you're talking about a global frame of perception that includes a cognitive component (i.e., including the prefrontal cortex), then you are looking at about 10 fps. If you are looking at how individual sensory processing cortices manifest these frames, it's at about 40 fps. If you are looking at more mid-range associations between different sensory modalities it's in the 12-20 fps range. In the situation with the water glass I was referring to and with your particular concern, which required conscious rumination, I think we're looking at 10 fps, maybe a little less, 8-10.


    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  7. Aug 16, 2016 #6
    I think what you mean to say is that the visual cortex in primates is large relative to other regions, not mammals in general. In fact, it is this feature which differentiates mammals; the relative sizes of cortical regions in each. For example, bats have a relatively large auditory cortex which helps in echolocation, mice have a relatively large somatosensory cortex which helps process signals coming from the whiskers, etc. Elephants have a disproportionate representation in the cortex devoted to the trunk, and there are many other examples. Here's a good review article on the subject:

  8. Aug 16, 2016 #7
    Thanks for the replies. I now understand our visual perception with closed eyes should not be compared with fps. However personally I don't see/imagine any movement of scenes at all with closed eyes . As mentioned by DiracPool its still image always. I tried to imagine a rotating ceiling fan, a running boy etc. but failed to trace any real movement. Are you able to recognize/feel/imagine any movement of any event with closed eyes ?
  9. Aug 16, 2016 #8
    Ok, Tareq, I think I may have mis-read your initial concern. What you may be experiencing is something more pathological. Read these wikipedia articles and if you think this fits your symptoms then get that looked into, it's called Akinetopsia:


    The inability to perceive motion is called akinetopsia and it may be caused by a lesion to cortical area V5 in the extrastriate cortex. Neuropsychological studies of a patient who could not see motion, seeing the world in a series of static "frames" instead, suggested that visual area V5 in humans is homologous to motion processing area MT in primates.


    I definitely can see the blades of a fan rotating and a running boy when I close my eyes. If I couldn't, I would be on the verge of solving the grand unified theory with my gedankenexperiments :oldsmile:

    Also, can you experience motion with your eyes open? Watching a scene? But just not visualize it when you close your eyes? I'm not sure what that condition would be, but, regardless, you should be able to visualize fluid motion flow in your mind's eye with your eyes closed. If not, time to go to the doc.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
  10. Aug 16, 2016 #9

    Fervent Freyja

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    Well yes. There are some people that think with imagery/motion. While some predominantly think in 'language'. There are different types of thinking. But still, most people can use all types. You should be able to imagine movement with your eyes closed.

    Try closing your eyes. Conjure up an object that you use often, maybe a set of car keys. Can you remember the shape of each key? Try rotating it. Can you imagine opening your car door? If you really cannot do this then you may want to see a specialist!

    Wouldn't a person know if they had Akinetopsia? Couldn't that issue be obvious when going to type a post and being unable to perceive your fingers moving? Odd...
  11. Aug 16, 2016 #10
    Well, I think this it what clinical Akinetopsia is. I remember reading about these clinical cases. Everything happens in frames. You walk across a street and the only thing you experience is 3 still frames of the experience. You're pouring a glass of water and all you see are a few still segments of "bars" of water, that sort of thing. But I haven't heard of a "live" perceptual experience removed from a visualization experience. And I'm not going to look it up, but someone else is welcome. In my experience, though, one usually doesn't occur without the other, case in point: if you're a human and you have your visual cortex ablated, not only can't you "see" a visual image, even though your eyes and optical tract are intact, you have also lost your ability to visualize any scenes in your mind's eye. Same goes with the auditory cortex, etc. So to be able to do one without the other is very curious..
  12. Aug 16, 2016 #11
    DiracPool thanks again. Though I am sure I don't have Akinetopsia. I can see motion quite well just like any normal person. I play football, cricket, computer games, can detect slow and fast movements easily. The issue is only when I try to imagine with my eyes closed. May be I need some practice to create movements with eyes closed . May be its quite normal to human beings but I don't have statistics on it. My main query remains the same: With eyes closed how well (i.e. quality) one can imagine movements? Just like the way we compare a video with low fps,high fps, 2D,3D, LED screen,LCD screen, Plasma screen, holographic etc.

    I don't know whether by increasing the movement level(with closed eyes) via practice will earn me any benefit or not. Its just a curiosity. I have another query on closed eyes to be posted next.
  13. Aug 17, 2016 #12
    I know exactly what you mean Tareq and I have examined this in my own experience very closely. I don't know about other people, but this is what happens for me. It seems I perceive motion normally in everyday consciousness. I also experience clear motion in dreams. But I do not experience motion when imagining a scene. What I experience as near as I can tell is a static image and the "idea" of movement. So if I imagine a person walking along the street, it seems at first I can imagine the movement, but when I look more closely there is none. Just a static image to which I assign a sense of movement. And any continuous scene is simply a series of static images connected by the idea of whatever I expect to be happening. Something similar happens with say color. If I imagine a red elephant, it seems obvious that I can imagine it. Try to imagine five red elephants and in fact it is really one elephant with the idea of both "five" and "red". For example, imagine five red elephants, each doing something different - at first it seems that's what you see but on closer examination I suggest you will only be able to see in detail one at a time, and the "red" is not actually contained within the boundaries of each. I am not even sure that when I imagine anything there is vision like imagery, it all seems suspiciously like representations of ideas using fragments of imagery.
  14. Aug 17, 2016 #13
    Yes Graeme M, I think my experience match with you. While imagining a motion consciously with closed eyes it seemed like I am trying to draw something and how good it may generate purely depends on my personal skill . I think a professional movie cameraman or a cartoon animator can better imagine a motion with closed eyes . I will try the elephant test .

    For some cases I feel unconscious mind delivers quick and better result which may be case for motion also. For example if I play some mobile games like piano tiles or duet in a relaxing mode without consciously trying to control my fingers movement then I perform better. But if I try to move my fingers in a conscious controlled mode then I get low score. For mathematical calculation, science analysis etc. we need conscious concentration but for some natural events automatic unconscious effort generates better result compare to trying consciously. We all are equipped with a most advance natural lab which is our brain. I love to continuously test in this lab for joy and also for discovering hidden facts.
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