Filling Holes Part II: Anti-social Behavior

My brother called me to mention some of his favorite examples of filling in the holes. Sometimes it can be cool, like when you are driving by a picket fence with a horse behind it, you actually see the full horse. Your brain puts all the pieces together. Interestingly enough, you can toggle on and off, seeing the fence, then the horse, and then the fence again. But sometimes, we all have trouble turning it off, leading to some anti-social behavoir.

The brain is especially good at facial recognition. Its ability to assimilate an entire face from portions of it (like a nose and one eye) are unmatched by even the most powerful computers. Facial recognition is extremely important for your survival, so it is a core function. Of course, that is also why your brain fixates when it is wrong. Sometimes you can't help but stare at someone with a deformity, because your brain is trying to assimilate why it went so wrong and improve it's model. It's not your fault; it's human nature. Tell that to your mom.

I have always had trouble listening to slow speakers, because I know the next words. This often leads me to interrupt them by filling in the words myself. I remember Liz Topp describing once how annoying that was, and I actively worked on it. Now I just fill them in in my head. Then again this skill is useful. My brother describes a friend with ALS, who's speech degraded so that my brother couldn't understand a single word his friend said. But at the end of the sentence he could put all the pieces together to figure out the whole sentence.

For me, the most anti-social of behaviors is staring at the TV. Part of it is the motion, but a lot of it is the fact that you have blind spots in your peripheral vision, ie it can't process the image, especially one so detailed with motion. As a result your brain actively turns your eyes towards it. I can barely talk to my sister if there is a TV on in the room; she just stares at it. I have trouble focusing at meetings with video, which is tough when you are pitching Internet TV services. In the morning at my office building, it amazes me how every single elevator rider stares at the embedded TV screen. The name of the service? "Captivate Network."

Sometimes your brain captivates you with it's background job of filling in the holes. But be careful, because of the anti-social consequence you may find yourself in a hole of your own.