A group of researchers have found out the manner in which the brain remembers the future.
Boffins in the Dept. of Psychology at the Univ. of Glasgow, working in collaboration with the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany, claim that the visual cortex does not simply react to visual stimuli but proactively predicts what it is likely to see in any given context.
And by doing so it uses less energy to process images, but if something unexpected were to appear in that familiar environment, the visual cortex becomes more active in order to process this information, reports New Scientist.
"The brain expects to see things and really just wants to confirm it now and again," says Lars Muckli at the University of Glasgow, UK.
To reach the conclusion, Muckli and Arjen Alink at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research asked 12 volunteers to focus on a cross on a screen, above and below which bars flashed on and off to create the illusion of movement.
In order to test a predictable stimulus, a third bar would appear in a position timed to fit in with the illusion of smooth movement. For the unpredictable stimulus it would appear out of sync.
fMRI scans showed that the unpredictable stimulus increased the activity in parts of the brain which deal with the earliest stages of visual processing.
The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.