Question: why is it possible for humans to look at something and not take notice

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  1. Yes. In order to notice something the brain must first register it was seen and then comprehend it in context. For example watch this video and follow the instructions


  2. Hi Shaunm,

    This is a good question.

    Our brain is not like a video recorder that captures all the information that is going on. Instead our brain fills in a lot of the information based on prior experiences; these are our models of the world. These models of the world the brain continually checks and modifies as we learn and have further experiences.

    This is why we are so good at seeing patterns that are not necessarily there, but can also cause us to seemingly miss things. So when our focus is on one particular event, other events that may be taking place within the same field of view can seem not to happen, though they obviously do.

    An example that happens a lot in my field of science is the identification of animals, especially animals that look similar like rats or snakes. Because I have looked at thousands of individuals the models of the animal that I know as a brown snake is very well formed. But for someone else, they have not learnt all the little features and so their model of what a brown snake is, is very different.