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Vision Strikes the Eyes and Explodes in the Brain

Updated: Jun 3

The picture above is from David Van Essen's research. It is a diagram of the visual "circuitry" in the brains of macaque monkeys. The image shows the way visual information travels from front/eyes (bottom) to rear/posterior head (top). It demonstrates the complexity of vision and how powerfully it impacts the brain. So many parts of the brain are involved in vision, it's hard to determine what's not!

In humans, one vision "circuit", the ventral stream, processes object recognition and identification. It is known as the "what" pathway and it activates parts of the temporal lobe. Another "circuit", the dorsal stream, focuses on spatial awareness and object location. It is know as the "where" pathway, and it involves the parietal lobe.

Vision also interacts with other brain regions: the thalamus edits and elevates specific information to conscious awareness (engaging the frontal lobe/prefrontal cortex); the amygdala connects emotions with vision; and, the hippocampus facilitates memory storage from vision.

In summary, vision is full of life...your life. All your memories, experiences, best of times, and worst of times are all connected inseparably to your vision. You cannot see anything without your brain's vigilant involvement; constantly poking around in the background like Sherlock Holmes. It's always asking a thousand questions: Is it safe? Does it taste good? What does it remind me of? Can it hurt me? Why is it important? Should I remember it? Why? Would it help me or someone I care about? Should I forget it? When should I remember this again? Should this prompt some action?

Basically, vision strikes the eyes and explodes in the brain.

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