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 Blind(fold)ed by Science: Study Shows the Strategy Humans Use to Chase Objects

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Date posted: 26/06/2013

A new study has found that chasing down a moving object is not only a matter of sight or of sound, but of mind.

The study found that people who are blindfolded employ the same strategy to intercept a running ball carrier as people who can see, which suggests that multiple areas of the brain cooperate to accomplish the task.

Regardless of whether they could see or not, the study participants seemed to aim ahead of the ball carrier’s trajectory and then run to the spot where they expected him or her to be in the near future. Researchers call this a “constant target-heading angle” strategy, similar to strategies used by dogs catching Frisbees and baseball players catching fly balls.

It’s also the best way to catch an object that is trying to evade capture, explained Dennis Shaffer, assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.

“The constant-angle strategy geometrically guarantees that you’ll reach your target, if your speed and the target’s speed stay constant, and you’re both moving in a straight line. It also gives you leeway to adjust if the target abruptly changes direction to evade you,” Shaffer said.

“The fact that people run after targets at a constant angle regardless of whether they can see or not suggests that there are brain mechanisms in place that we would call ‘polymodal’—areas of the brain that serve more than one form of sensory modality. Sight and hearing may be different senses, but within the brain the results of the sensory input for this task may be the same.”

The study appears in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

See the full Story via external site: researchnews.osu.edu



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