Your brain changes the game

It was a tough sports weekend for the house of Pax. Not only did the Giants get creamed by New Orleans, but the Yankees and Phillies took several steps closer to playing in the biggest asshole douchebag fuckface World Series of all time.

On top of all that, Steven Hauschka — the official placekicker of Pax Arcana — missed a 44-yard field goal that would have sent the Minnesota Favrekings home with their first loss of the season.

steve_hauschka

I root for Hauschka because we both attended the same college — the Central Vermont Institute for Advanced Tomfoolery and Maple Syrupry. So I was heartbroken when he — our only NFL player ever — just missed the chance to humiliate Brett Favre in front of millions.

He’s a young kid, though, so he’ll bounce back. Assuming, of course, he can use his brain to convince his eyes that they’re wrong about where the goalposts are.

According to Wired, new research shows that missed field goal kicks actually change a person’s perception of the dimension of the goal posts:

In a study of 23 non-football athletes who each kicked 10 field goals, researchers found that players’ performance directly affected their perception of the size of the goal: After a series of missed kicks, athletes perceived the post to be taller and more narrow than before, while successful kicks made the post appear larger-than-life.

While this might appear to be a “no duh” result, the study may alter the way scientists perceive perception itself. Until now, scientists pretty much separated the processes of receiving visual input and interpreting that input. But if the study subjects genuinely reported different perceptions based on the past performance of field goal kicking, that means the input and interpretation are more closely tied than believed:

According to visual perception researcher Maggie Shiffrar of Rutgers University, who was not involved in the research, Witt’s conclusions are troubling to many scientists because they suggest that computer studies of perception might not be a reflection of reality.

“If Witt is right that what we see depends upon what we can do, then it logically follows that many of us have spent our lives studying perception in the WRONG WAY,” Shiffrar wrote in an e-mail. “In the vast majority of studies conducted in my lab, for example, observers view displays on a flat computer screen and make simple, dichotomous judgments about their perceptions of those displays. Thus, subjects in my studies don’t do anything other than push a button. The results of Witt’s studies suggest that the results that I’ve collected and the corresponding theoretical conclusions that I’ve drawn won’t generalize to perception in the real world. In the real world, people look at objects so that they can do something with those objects.”

It seems true — people do look at objects so that they can do something with those objects. And so finally, after all these years, science explains why slutty girls are hotter.

Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post [Wired]

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