Training boosts how older adults see motion

New Delhi: One reason human beings are good at discerning smaller moving objects in the foreground is that our brain becomes desensitized to motion in the larger background, report researchers. Conversely, when a person’s brain is more sensitive to background motion, the negative trade-off is that she will be less sensitive to smaller foreground objects.

The research, which appears in Nature Communications, could lead to new training programs for elderly adults and patients with conditions such as schizophrenia, which has been linked to weaker motion segregation. Visual motion is an important source of information for separating objects from their backgrounds. A spider camouflaged against a branch, for instance, immediately loses its invisibility once it starts moving.

A friend you are trying to spot in a crowded airport terminal is more distinguishable once she begins waving her hands. While the process of separating an object from a background is seemingly effortless, researchers still don’t know how our visual system manages to rapidly pick out and segregate moving objects from their backgrounds. The new research may get them one step closer to understanding how the process works.

“The human brain cannot possibly process all of the information around us,” says lead author Duje Tadin, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “Being less sensitive to things that are less important makes the brain more efficient and faster at accomplishing the more important tasks.”

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