Monday, June 22, 2020


I got new valuable and fun insights from "Incognito" by David Eagleman.  So, I started reading "The Brain: The Story of You".  The author makes it clear that our brains and our perception apparatus (nerves, vision receptors and translators, hearing system) have things happen, like light hitting our retina or sound waves moving hairs in our inner ear, that the body translates into pictures or sounds in the brain.  It takes time for the perception in the sense organ to be changed into nerve impulses and for the impulses to travel to our brains and be combined with knowledge and expectations and predictions.  So, the upshot is that we are always working in the past.  

He says that the bang from a starter pistol can be decoded by the sprinters and used as a signal to take off in less time than a flash takes as a starting signal but sound still takes time to travel and to be decoded.  So, yes, the runners cannot begin the race until after the starter pistol has been fired.  

I am a student of delays and their effect.  I have known two professors who habitually delayed speaking noticeably longer than normally expected.  I might say,"That is a nice car you are driving."  No response, no response, no response.  I might add,"I used to have a car like that".  One of these habitual delayers might say," Thanks".  The effect was like those instances when the speech in a movie is out of sync with the picture.  Sort of the case where the butler opens the door, beckons the visitor inside and then we hear the doorbell ring. It takes a while to connect the latest statement not with my last comment but the one before that.

You can see the confusing effect of delays with a computer working with a network experiencing heavy traffic.  You type "Happy birthday to you" or you are pretty sure that's what you type but the monitor show "Happ" so you figure something has gone wrong and you type "y birthday to you" but suddenly and belatedly "HappHappy birthday to you"pops up on the monitor.  Timing matters and delays can confuse.  Eagleman points out that the brain scientists are studying how the brain manages to get hearing, sight and touch synchronized so that we hear, see and feel in the right sequence and experience them all together.

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