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D. Brain Perception and the Weighted Average

Narrator:This is Science Today. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, when the human brain is presented with conflicting information about an object from different senses, it finds a remarkably efficient way to sort out the discrepancies. Martin Banks, professor of optometry and psychology, explains how your brain splits the difference to create a single mental image.

Banks: What the brain always does is a weighted average. So it always takes what the eyes see and what the hand feels and it just averages the two to get a result.

Narrator: In other cases, when the brain receives conflicting information from the same sense, it will go with the weighted average.

Banks: So that's what kind of convinced us then that the brain is really combining these two cues, and once it does that, it's basically just throwing away the cues. It just keeps that combined representation.

Narrator: Understanding this type of brain function is a first step towards developing programs that integrate virtual reality technology, including those used by surgeons. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.