What we can't see can help us find things, it can also make us anxious
on 14 May 2020
Imaging seeing what is not there

See what you want and want what you see. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Wouldn't life be great if we could live by such maxims? Well, actually you can, for sure not all the time but enough to make life a great place to be. You see, it's what we do most of the time, the norm, that appears to shape the way our brain works . . . 

A consequence of the duality of the brain!

While this research is primarily about how the brain differentiates the nature and structure of items, helping us to locate them. It was interesting to know it happens, even though we are unaware that we are doing it! It reminded me of the way our brain does a very similar thing when looking at or for things that represent danger. This is the way our fear system works and in ordinary situations, it does a pretty good job in keeping us out of harms reach. But add too much cayenne pepper or a pinch of fairy dust (just joking) and the whole system can go off the rails. Enter the anxiety trap, the moment when a normal fear system becomes dysregulated!

Our visual system is constantly scanning the environment and it can identify things based on expectation or even anticipation. It can also see things that are not there, as long as we expect them to be there, this is a positive hallucination. We can also experience the opposite, i.e. not seeing things that actually are there; a negative hallucination. Anxiety disorders can pepper our life with ambiguity, to the point we begin to imagine bad things can or will happen. The images of that place crashing, that stray look that means he/she is having an affair or even knowing that the new employee is going to get your promotion! The problem is, that our brain is constantly filtering sensory stimuli and much of it can be related to past experiences, which is stored in emotional memories. Of course, we all have random thoughts, sometimes these are troubling but they pass and we may never give them a second thought. But when we have an anxiety disorder, they don't pass and we often give them a second, third, fourth . . . thought! And on and on it goes. So you may be wondering, what can I do? Well, you won't be surprised if I mention hypnosis, will you?

Hypnotherapy is not, or at least shouldn't just be about hypnosis and therapeutic intervention. We need to be thinking big picture here and the way to do that is by taking a holistic approach to life. In order to function to our utmost potential, we need to focus on "all of the basics," i.e. breathing, hydration, food, sleep, exercise, in all its forms and then hypnosis will work much more effectively. It still works, to certain degrees, if you ignore the basics, obviously not too much, it just works better if all parts of you are a part of the plan. Most of the clients I see are somewhere on this anomalous pathway. That is, they have a sense of what they should be doing, they're just not doing it. For example, very few clients breathe properly, (diaphragmatically), many are somewhat dehydrated and many have poor diets. You will survive but for some, a long and happy life could be a stretch! Some say, the quality of one's life is not expressed in the number of years, It's what they achieve in those years that really counts. But what if you were to have it all, long life and lots of achievement; wouldn't that be good? Well, this is my goal for every client and it is an intrinsic part of the way I deliver my therapy! So, if you want to live a good life, why not make an appointment for a free consultation? See below for the link to a new future!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little or poor quality sleep and too little by way of mental and emotional clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious brain's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want the ability to make your life feel better, then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

My objective is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into emotional experiences that may actually be happening but for reasons, we may never have imagined! If you want to know more about Hypnotherapy, why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here Or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research:

Anyone who's ever tried to find something in a hurry knows how helpful it is to think about the lost item's colour, size and shape. But surprisingly, traits of an object that you can't see also come into play during a search, Johns Hopkins University researchers found.

When participants were asked to spot everyday objects in clutter, they found them about 20 per cent faster if they could factor in latent physical traits like hardness or softness - even though people had no idea that they were considering those factors.

"What makes the finding particularly striking from a vision science standpoint is that simply knowing the latent physical properties of objects is enough to help guide your attention to them," said senior author Jason Fischer, a cognitive neuroscientist in the university's department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. "It's surprising because nearly all prior research in this area has focused on a host of visual properties that can facilitate search, but we find that what you know about objects can be as important as what you actually see."

The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Fischer's Dynamic Perception Lab studies how people's intuitive understanding of physical properties and dynamics influences how they interact with their everyday environments, and also how people focus on the things they need when there is so much to see in the world at any given moment. Those lines of research come together here, as the team wondered if someone's knowledge of objects' physical attributes would influence their attention in a visual search.

For instance, people know through experience that eggs are light and fragile, and canned products are heavy and sturdy. When bagging those things at the grocery store, people would likely put the heavy cans at the bottom of a bag and the fragile eggs on top. But if you can't see the fragility or the heaviness, you just inherently know it, would that knowledge help you find something?

To get at the answer, lead author, graduate student Li Guo, ran a series of visual search experiments where people were asked to locate everyday objects amid the clutter. The target was sometimes differentiated by its hardness. Guo and the team found that participants implicitly used the hardness distinction to locate a target more quickly, even though none reported being aware that hardness was relevant.

"You're automatically leveraging what you know about hardness to avoid being distracted by the other things," Guo said, as Fischer added: "If you are searching for a sweater in a cluttered room, without any awareness of doing so you are able to avoid wasting time searching through the hard objects in the room and instead focus on the soft ones."

The more items in the search, the greater the benefit of being able to differentiate them through hardness, the team found. The benefit existed even when participants were shown line drawings. And when the team tracked where participants looked while searching, they found that participants wasted less time looking at objects that didn't have the correct hardness or softness.

"To me what this says is that in the back of our minds, we are always evaluating the physical content of a scene to decide what to do next," Fischer said. "Our mental intuitive physics engines are constantly at work to guide not only how we interact with things in our environment, but how we distribute our attention among them as well."

The team hopes to build on these findings by studying how what people intuitively know about the physics of objects might help them predict what's going to happen next in an environment. 

Story Source:

Materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Li Guo, Susan M. Courtney, Jason Fischer. Knowledge of objects’ physical properties implicitly guides attention during visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2020; DOI: 10.1037/xge0000776

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "What we can't see can help us find things." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2020. <>