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How fast does our brain process visual information?

Meet Maya AI How does our brain process information and visuals?
The brain is a complex machine that is constantly taking in stimuli and trying to make sense of it. When it comes to visuals, the brain does an amazing job of quickly assessing an image and understanding what it’s seeing. But how does it do this? Let’s look at the science behind how our brains process visuals.  
Recent studies of visual perception have begun to reveal the connection between neural activity in our brains and what we experience as humans. One such study found that transcranial magnetic stimulation can interrupt normal object recognition skills by disrupting the initial stages within a person’s cerebral cortex. Activity in earlier areas is more tightly correlated with the physical properties of objects while neurons in later areas respond in a manner more like visual perception.

How does the brain process visual information?

When we see something, our brain at once begins to process visual information. This processing happens in two ways: bottom-up processing and top-down processing.  
Bottom-up processing is when the brain starts with the basic elements of an image and then puts them together to form a whole. For example, when you see a dog, your brain first recognizes the eyes, nose, mouth, fur, etc. Once it has processed all these individual elements, it formulates a complete picture of a dog.  
Top-down processing is when the brain uses preexisting knowledge to interpret an image. For example, if you see a bunch of random shapes, your brain will use its knowledge of shapes to try to make sense of them. It will see if any of the shapes fit into patterns that it knows (e.g., a triangle, a square, etc.).  
Better retention and comprehension of visual content 
When you see something that scares or impresses you, your brain can’t help but react. It’s as if wires are running from our eyes straight into the deepest parts of ourselves and we’re helplessly reacting without even realizing what hit us! The part about this being intuitive makes sense- when faced with danger (bear), people often do one thing: run to protect themselves; however, they may not realize until later how close their reaction was due to just pure instinctual reflexes. 
Our brains are hardwired to respond to visual cues. This is because, as humans, we are largely Visual Learners. In fact, 65% of the population are Visual Learners, which means that we understand and remember things better when we see them (as opposed to hearing or reading about them).
When we see something, our brains take in the visual information and then store it in our short-term memory. From there, the information moves to our long-term memory where it is stored permanently. The speed at which our brains can process visuals is also worth noting. Scientists have found that the human brain can process images that it sees in as little as 13 milliseconds. To put that into perspective, that’s faster than the blink of an eye!  
Meet Maya AI visual example - Perceived surface, Crossed disparity and Uncrossed disparity in the brain
Visual content in the Age of information 
The age of social media, big data, and uninterrupted global internet access has made people more vulnerable to the inputs they receive. Visual content is uniquely poised to help cut through all this noise because it’s easier on your brain than other types of written words! 
Text is the new currency of today’s society. Not only does it serve as an uncomplicated way for people to communicate with each other, but also supplies insight into how they are feeling or what their thoughts may be about a particular topic by analyzing body language and tone changes in speech throughout this interaction. In fact, research shows that when we read text from one person – especially someone important like family members–we tend to look over some words while focusing more closely on others. 

There can sometimes exist hidden meaning behind phrases written down rather than spoken aloud; however, if those same sentences were printed out instead then the odds would be. What’s more, our brains are already doing this work. More than 80 percent of the information that our brains are processing is visual. 
If we were able to see everything in our life as if it was being transmitted through a delaying mechanism, the world would seem slower and less intense. Delay is good for slowing down how fast visual information pours into your consciousness so that you can take time making decisions or acting on what’s happening around us all day long! The downside? Delays also mean more patience when needing pinpoint accuracy–which may not always feel flattering sometimes.  
For example, radiologists review hundreds of images in stacks and see several related images in quick succession. When viewing x-rays, doctors are usually asked to find and classify any abnormalities. During this visual search and recognition task, researchers found that radiologists’ decisions were based not only on the current image but also on previously viewed images. 
So, what does all this mean for data analysts and heads of data?  

Simply put, it means that incorporating relevant visuals into your data presentations is key to ensuring that your audience understands and remembers the information you’re sharing with them. When presenting data, try to use charts, graphs, and other visual aids to help your audience make sense of the numbers. And if you’re ever in doubt about whether a particular visual is effective, err on the side of simplicity; less is almost always more when it comes to data visualization.

Our brains are amazing machines that are constantly taking in information and trying to make sense of it. When it comes to visuals, the brain does an amazing job of quickly assessing an image and understanding what it’s seeing. This is done through bottom-up processing (starting with basic elements and putting them together) and top-down processing (using preexisting knowledge to interpret an image). 

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