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Home » How Your Vision Determines Your Reality: Bryan William Jones (Transcript)

How Your Vision Determines Your Reality: Bryan William Jones (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of neuroscientist Bryan William Jones’ talk titled “How Your Vision Determines Your Reality” at TEDxBerlin 2024 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Human Brain

This amazing object is a human brain. I don’t have one here to show you, but if I could get you to imagine holding one in your own hands, you’d have an object in your hands that is roughly 1.4 kilos of fat, water, protein, carbohydrates, and salt. That’s it. But everything that we are, all of our personality, everything exists in this wondrous object.

And this wondrous object is contained within our skulls. In our skulls, our brains are basically in black boxes, and they know nothing about the world outside, unless it’s informed by the senses that plug into the brain. There are 12 cranial nerves in the brain, and all of our senses plus some end up flowing into our brains to help us synthesize our reality.

The trick is, every one of us perceives the world a little bit differently, but we don’t know it unless we’re given the opportunity to compare what we think we know about the world with what others think they know about the world. Neuroscientists now recognize a broader range of sensory experiences beyond the five basic human senses, with at least 20 senses that have evolved throughout evolution.

We rely on all of these 20 senses as a sophisticated network to literally help us synthesize our reality moment by moment. When there are gaps in the streaming of sensory information into our brains, our brains will make up the difference. They will model or predict what our brains think about reality, almost like we’re along for the ride.

Vision and the Retina

This modeling basically is our reality, but it’s also the foundation of illusion and misunderstanding. My scientific career has been the study of just one of these senses, vision. Vision is the sense that a lot of us use to inform what we think we know about reality.

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