Cancelling your eyes. Making everything still. Flying…

Scientists analyzed how the brain of a fly compensates for its own movement when seeing and found out that indeed specific neurons are suppressed in order to keep the fly… flying. When a gust of wind unexpectedly blows a fly off course, for example, a powerful reflex known as the optomotor response causes the insect’s head to rotate in the opposite direction, snapping its eyes back toward their original target. The fly also stabilizes its flight path by using its wings to execute a counter-turn. If a fly intentionally turns to shift its gaze, however, something different occurs. The urge to rotate its head and body back toward the original flight direction is somehow suppressed. Otherwise, it would never be able shift its gaze at all.

The same with humans: “Every time you move your eye, the whole world moves on your retina,” says Gaby Maimon, head of the Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function. “But you don’t perceive an earthquake happening several times a second”. That’s because the brain can tell if visual motion is self-generated, canceling out information that would otherwise make us feel – and act – as if the world was whirling around us.

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Each time you shift your gaze (and you do so several times a second), the brain sends a command to the eyes to move. But a copy of that command is issued internally to the brain’s own visual system, as well. This allows the brain to predict that it is about to receive a flood of visual information resulting from the body’s own movement — and to compensate for it by suppressing or enhancing the activity of particular neurons. (1)

Shift your gaze. The world is moving.

However, it is actually not.

Shift your point of view. The world seems different.

Nevertheless, it is still the same.

Trust not your eyes. They are not the ones which ‘see’.

Trust not your brain. It is not the one which ‘thinks’…

Think rationally.

Think irrationally.

Cancel all movement.

Just let the fly fly.

No distractions whatsoever…

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