The difference between imagination and reality in the brain

The human imagination is a remarkable thing, creating in detail ideas and images never before seen in real life. Imagination, however, works off of what a person has been exposed to in reality; the creature or landscape being imagined is a combination of bits and pieces of things encountered everyday. Something imagined can be just as realistic as something tangible–as seen in artwork of film–so how does the brain distinguish the difference between what is real and what is not? SEE ALSO: 5 steps to improve your brain health According to research this year from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, humans are able to distinguish between reality and imagination based on how electrical activity moves within the brain. During the research, experts found using the imagination caused electrical impulses to move from the parietal lobe of the brain to the occipital lobe in a high-to-low region pattern. When processing reality, electrical impulses move in the opposite motion. “A really important problem in brain research is understanding how different parts of the brain are functionally connected. What areas are interacting? What is the direction of communication?” Barry Van Veen, a UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering, said in a press release. “We know that the brain does not function as a set of independent areas, but as a network of specialized areas that collaborate.” According to the Wisconsin-Madison team, much of the brain’s processes are directional, and understanding the brain’s pathways is currently an under-studied realm of medical science. “There seems to be a lot in our brains and animal brains that is directional, that neural signals move in a particular direction, then stop, and start somewhere else,” Van Veen said. “I think this is really a new theme that had not been explored.” The distinct pathways of imagination and reality also add credence to another study that investigated why some people seem to have altered perceptions of reality. Earlier this year, research led by Jon Simons of Cambridge University, revealed an individual’s ability to distinguish between what really happened and what was imagined was linked to the presence of a specific fold in the front of the brain. What’s more, experts noted that approximately 27 percent of people were missing that fold completely. SEE ALSO: Human ‘homing instinct’ region of the brain identified “It is exciting to think that these individual differences in ability might have a basis in a simple brain folding variation,” Simons said in a statement at the time. Though the two studies suggest there is a link between electrical impulses and brain formation, more research is needed to map the thought processes of the brain to determine how shape and neurological pathways are interconnected.The post The difference between imagination and reality in the brain appeared first on Voxxi.

How does the brain distinguish imagination from reality? (Photo: Shutterstock)

The human imagination is a remarkable thing, creating in detail ideas and images never before seen in real life. Imagination, however, works off of what a person has been exposed to in reality; the creature or landscape being imagined is a combination of bits and pieces of things encountered everyday.

Something imagined can be just as realistic as something tangible–as seen in artwork of film–so how does the brain distinguish the difference between what is real and what is not?

SEE ALSO: 5 steps to improve your brain health

According to research this year from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, humans are able to distinguish between reality and imagination based on how electrical activity moves within the brain.

During the research, experts found using the imagination caused electrical impulses to move from the parietal lobe of the brain to the occipital lobe in a high-to-low region pattern. When processing reality, electrical impulses move in the opposite motion.

“A really important problem in brain research is understanding how different parts of the brain are functionally connected. What areas are interacting? What is the direction of communication?” Barry Van Veen, a UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering, said in a press release.

Imagination is amazing
The human mind remains mysterious even though scientific discoveries are made everyday. (Photo: Shutterstock)

“We know that the brain does not function as a set of independent areas, but as a network of specialized areas that collaborate.”

According to the Wisconsin-Madison team, much of the brain’s processes are directional, and understanding the brain’s pathways is currently an under-studied realm of medical science.

“There seems to be a lot in our brains and animal brains that is directional, that neural signals move in a particular direction, then stop, and start somewhere else,” Van Veen said. “I think this is really a new theme that had not been explored.”

The distinct pathways of imagination and reality also add credence to another study that investigated why some people seem to have altered perceptions of reality. Earlier this year, research led by Jon Simons of Cambridge University, revealed an individual’s ability to distinguish between what really happened and what was imagined was linked to the presence of a specific fold in the front of the brain. What’s more, experts noted that approximately 27 percent of people were missing that fold completely.

SEE ALSO: Human ‘homing instinct’ region of the brain identified

“It is exciting to think that these individual differences in ability might have a basis in a simple brain folding variation,” Simons said in a statement at the time.

Though the two studies suggest there is a link between electrical impulses and brain formation, more research is needed to map the thought processes of the brain to determine how shape and neurological pathways are interconnected.

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The post The difference between imagination and reality in the brain appeared first on Voxxi.