You’ve probably never seen a duck teaching a French class, or a dolphin expertly balancing a pineapple. But thanks to your brain, you’re able to visualise these scenes now that you’ve read this. How, though?
Neuroscientist Andrey Vyshedskiy, who teaches at Boston University, explains in the TED-Ed video above what allows us to escape reality and come up with all kinds of beautiful – even terrifying – pictures in our heads.
Because we’re so used to imagining things, we don’t even think twice about the complex processes responsible for letting us see things we’ve never witnessed first-hand. It’s almost like being children again with puzzles, asked to reassemble picture collages. The brain is able to do this, and much more, when asked to visualise something.
Consider for a moment how fascinating that is. Our brains arrange familiar pieces in different ways to allow us to imagine, essentially juggling electric signals to get them all to reach the intended destination at the right time.
Ever wondered why some people are better at imagining things than the rest? The possible reasons include the way they were raised by their parents and the toys and books they were surrounded with, helping fuel their imagination. Or the more sobering reason? Maybe they’re just better at that one thing than other people. It could also be a bit of both.