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. Thatís why we didnít 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 werenít 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.