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Why are people answering questions, I prefer to look at the ceiling or in the wall?

Many people, answering questions about what it looks like or what it’s like any subject, before you comment, look at the ceiling or the wall. Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found out that there’s a scientific explanation. It turns out that visual noise difficult to focus on the answer and people can make mistakes with even the most trivial question — for example a tail of a crocodile. This contradicts common theories about what information is stored in the mind as a set of facts, divorced from the visual image.

Associate Professor of the University Gary Lupyan commented: “We experience the world and learn something about it — often through the senses. However, after we learned something — would the new knowledge depend on feelings? It seems that Yes.” Pierce Edmiston, PhD student from the laboratory of the scientist, under his leadership asked the volunteers some simple questions on known facts about the usual subjects. Some questions referred to the visual characteristics of objects — “if the crocodiles have tails?”, “If the red strawberry?”, others required extensive knowledge — “Crocodiles live in swamps?”, “Strawberry — fruit?”.

While the study participants answered the questions, pierce Edmiston periodically and unexpectedly included im “color noise”, flash chaotically moving spots of different colors, to prevent the parts of the brain responsible for processing visual information. A graduate student told me that people were distracted by the color noise and felt the obvious problem to remember, looks like one or the other thing, while not related to visual data questions the answers were given without delay.

The effect was weak, but stable enough to confidently say that the memories of how something or someone looks, make use in the brain centers for visual information. Gary Lupyan added that when people minimize color noise, considering a clean wall or just staring into nowhere, they release their perception, allowing him to work faster and more efficiently and spend less time retrieving from the memory a visual image.

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