Pipeline of Meaning


Pipeline of Meaning

Pipeline of Meaning

Our eyes work with our brain to make sense of the world. 

At any given moment our conscious attention is fixated on one spot, but we're also guessing what's around it. This peripheral awareness cues the eyes where to jump next. That jumping or saltation happens about three times per second. 

By combining data from brain scans and eye-tracking, scientists at the University of Birmingham are trying to understand how we guess at what the next point of attention might be, and how different regions of the brain cooperate in this "pipeline of meaning" as "one object is established while another region of the brain is simultaneously deciding which next item is important."  

Pipeline of Meaning

N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), The Studio, ca. 1913-1915, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 1/4 in.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Fowler. Photo Rick Rhodes

The scientists say: "Humans do not necessarily perceive objects simply one after another (in series), and nor do they perceive items simultaneously (in parallel). Instead, they establish a pipeline of observations, in which meaning from one object is established while another region of the brain is simultaneously deciding which next item is important."

A similar process happens when we read text. "The neuronal activity required to scan the next word in a sentence also increases according to the complexity of the word."

2 Comments on Gurney Journey: Pipeline of Meaning

  • Susan Krzywicki
    on October 20, 2021 | 10:27 Susan Krzywickisaid :
    "This is hard to conceptualize but fascinating. I can't imagine it unless maybe there is an overall awareness of the thing we are trying to see, while we focus in on a detail for a moment? It doesn't feel like that when I try to think about looking at something while keeping this in mind. Brain spinning. "
  • James Gurney
    on October 20, 2021 | 11:04 James Gurneysaid :
    "Susan, I agree. I'm glad to see that they're combining brain scans in real time with eye tracking, because I think that's the only way to understand how we sort out the visual world. I'd like to find more research about how we track the peripheral areas and what triggers our saltations to new areas. "
Pipeline of Meaning

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