Based on the available indications, looking at a dim image can lead to the formation of a similar pattern when daydreaming, but the difference between the two was not significant and needs more research.
The clear point is that the brain must be able to precisely adjust the intensity of the mental image to avoid interference between fantasy and reality. Naselaris says about this, the brain has a very precise balance. On the other hand, it may interpret the mental image just like the visual image.
The researchers found that the strength of the signal can be read or adjusted in the frontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for analyzing emotions and memories; But it is still not clear what determines the sharpness of the mental image or the difference between the imaginary signal strength and the reality threshold. This factor can be some kind of neurotransmitters, changes in brain connections or something completely different. Perhaps it is an unknown and completely different subset of neurons that sets the threshold for reality and indicates whether the signal should be transmitted to the path of imaginary images versus the path of perceptual images.
But according to Peter Tse, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College, imagination is a process that goes beyond simply looking at a few lines on a busy background. Imagination is the capacity to look at the contents of the cupboard and decide whether to make dinner or, in the example of the Wright brothers, to pick up a butterfly and attach it to a wing and imagine flying.
The difference between Perki and Dijkstra’s findings could be due to their different procedures; But there is another possibility: we may see the world differently than our ancestors.
Dijkstra says, his research was not only focused on the belief in the reality of the image, but was related to the “feeling” of reality. Because projected images, video displays, and other representations of reality are common in the 21st century, our brains evaluate reality a little differently than people a century ago, the authors believe.
Although the participants in the experiment did not expect to see anything, the expectation to see images was much higher than in the 1910 experiment, whose participants had never seen a projector in their lifetime; Therefore, today the threshold of reality is much lower than in the past, as a result, an imaginary image that has a high resolution may cross this threshold and confuse the brain.
A basis for illusion
The above findings raise questions: for example, whether the brain mechanism can be related to a wide set of conditions in which the boundary between imagination and perception merges. For example, Dijkstra shows that when people fall asleep and reality fades into the dream world, the reality threshold becomes steeper.
According to Carolina Lampert, an assistant professor of psychology at Adelphi University who was not involved in the research, psychopathic people may have a fantasy so good that it collides with the reality threshold, or their reality threshold may be dysfunctional. Some studies show that people who suffer from hallucinations and delusions have a kind of perceptual hyperactivity that indicates an increase in the image signal; But more research is needed to find out the mechanism of delirium. However, people who experience vivid imagery are not necessarily hallucinating.