My research paper is about the anatomy of an optical illusion. Optical Illusions are relevant to aviation in that the main guidance system of most aircraft on most flights is the pilot's eyes. Everyone, including pilots, is susceptible to an optical illusion. The hazards of optical illusions are many considering that at any time during the flight they can cause a healthy and experienced pilot to become confused, delusional and generally disoriented with obvious possible consequences. This is why we must study and be aware of optical illusions so that we may be better prepared should we encounter one at a critical time.
To better illustrate the origins of optical illusions I will review some parts of the brain and their functions. The brain has seven main parts, they are: the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the cerebellum, the brain stem, the corpus callosum, the two hemispheres, and the largest part of the brain, the cerebrum.
The thalamus is located just above the brain stem. It acts like a switchboard, deciding what to do with the messages that come to the brain. If you were reacting to a situation like flying in a dogfight, and radio chatter was coming through your headphones, your thalamus would ignore the radio chatter.
The hypothalamus controls our emotions such as happiness and sadness. It also controls our sense of temperature and our feeling of hunger. It is located directly in front of the thalamus. It is also one of the organs that is fully developed when you are born.
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls our muscles. When we are born, our cerebellums aren't fully developed. That’s why we didn’t do things in a coordinated manner with our limbs. We moved shakily with our bodies because messages from another part of our brain called the cerebrum weren’t organized by the cerebellum.
The brain stem is located at the back of the brain, right below the thalamus. It has the responsibility of taking care of involuntary movements such as breathing, blinking, and making our heart beat.
The cerebrum is the largest part of our brain. It takes care of our motor skills such as speaking, walking, and writing. These skills are operated in the outside layer of the brain, called the cortex. It is the last part of the brain to develop and is unique only in humans. The cerebrum is divided into two halves, or hemispheres. Our major learning senses are located within the two hemispheres.
The corpus callosum is the connector for the two hemispheres of the brain and sends messages between the hemispheres. Your corpus callosum is able to send about twenty messages per second and routes them to various nerve cells called neurons. The brain receives messages through these neurons. Scientists believe that for every ten billion cells in the body, one billion of them are neurons.
Can you see a square?
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that an area of the brain previously thought to process only simple visual information also tackles complex images such as optical illusions. Research, conducted with animals, provided evidence that both the simple and more complex areas of the brain are involved in different aspects of vision and work cooperatively, rather than in a rigid hierarchy, as scientists previously believed.
The Scientists compare vision to an orchestra, where clusters of cells in different parts of the brain cooperate to process different components of visual information such as vertical or horizontal orientation, color, size, shape, movement, and distinctions between overlapping objects.
The MIT research focused on an area of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of gray matter that envelops the entire brain called the primary visual cortex, also known as V1 and Area 17 of the brain. In humans that area is about five centimeters in diameter, about the size of four postage stamps and a couple millimeters deep on both sides of the rear of the head, just below the crown.
The V1 area is the first point of entry in the brain's cortex of visual information from the eye's retina. Earlier the V1 was thought to be involved only in processing very simple spatial orientations, such as whether an object is placed