Seeing stability: Physical understanding is rooted in automatic visual processing
Speaker: Chaz Firestone (Department of Psychological and Brain Science, Johns Hopkins University
Date: 2017.04.27 (Thu.) 10:00-12:00
Location: Boardroom, 15F United Medical Building (Back Building) ,TMU



Among our most impressive intellectual achievements is the ability to interpret the world in terms of underlying, unobservable physical forces. This physical understanding has historically been considered a paradigmatic case of sophisticated higher-level reasoning; however, this seems contrary to our everyday successes intuiting how objects will balance, slide, fall, bend or break. Here I will explore the possibility that such inferences (e.g. whether a tower of blocks will topple) are rooted in automatic visual processing, suggesting that appreciating how physical scenes will unfold works less like proving a theorem, and more like seeing color. I will report new evidence that physical scene understanding is fast, automatic, attention-grabbing, and so vivid that it can even create illusory motion — causing observers to see static precarious towers as actively falling. We can not only *think about* physical forces, but also *see* them.