By Bridget Hennessy
From the day you are born, your brain is the only thing you know. It controls everything you do, while simultaneously remaining a separate entity from the “you” that you think you are.
Despite knowing that you are your brain, you still think you maintain a certain level of control over your brain. You unquestioningly trust your brain and the knowledge it holds, though the brain erases forty minutes of your lifetime each day. It’s discomforting to know that our brains are changing what we perceive and believe every day through what we see.
Every time we shift our eyes to concentrate from one object to another, the brain uses “saccadic masking” to smooth over the blindness we experience from the rapid change of vision. The fraction of time it takes to concentrate on two different objects produces a blur in our vision in which we are so blinded that our brain cannot perceive it. The brain therefore erases this moment from our mind and replaces it with simply the first object we see, remembering it instead for an extended second to make up for the lost time. The brain “masks” this disorientation, though this happens so frequently that we lose around forty minutes a day to saccadic masking.
This adds up to around two years of life missed out on if you live to be eighty! And yes, this is extremely helpful to ensure that the mind is not overwhelmed with sensory information it cannot do anything with, but it is also extremely unsettling to know that your brain can function independently and erase your memories without you knowing. If the brain can decide which information you retain without you realizing, what else can it do?
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