Are We Making It All Up?

“Mental models, our conceptual models of the way objects work, or people behave, result from our tendency to form explanations of things…….  Mental models are often constructed from fragmentary evidence with but a poor understanding of what is happening and with a kind of naïve psychology that postulates causes, mechanisms and relationships even where there are none”  (Donald Norman:  The Design of Everyday Things.)

If someone throws a ball and you catch it then you see that as a linear sequence of cause and effect.  Someone throws the ball.  I see it fly through the air.  I move to catch it.  Boom, got it!  But science says, apparently, that it’s not quite so simple.   In the brain’s neural pathways, our visual system makes primary use of the dorsal stream for fast actions and the slower, ventral stream to recognise objects.  So the dorsal stream makes sure that you catch the ball before the ventral stream has seen that it was coming.  If you apply that to photography it seems that it may be possible to press the shutter button a nanosecond before you have seen what you intend to photograph.  That would not by any means be limited to action shots, would it?.  And it may account for that small stab of surprise and then recognition that we get from time to time when we see how one of our photos has come out.