How the Human Brain Interprets Image and Video


Contest Entry By:
Nikhil Garg
Engineer at Accenture

Result: #2 with Cash Prize.

How the Human Brain Interprets Image and Video

Image and video are very interesting subjects of discussion from a technical perspective as well as from the perspective of the brain functioning. They make use of very basic functions of the human brain to entertain us, make us smile, or cry, or laugh. Let’s explore a little more deep into the world of image and video and see how the human brain interprets them.

1. If we divide a still image into a collection of dots, our brain will reassemble the dots into a meaningful image.

This is true for any image you see. An image is nothing but a collection of dots that combine to create meaningful (or meaningless) images or photos.

This might not be so intuitive by looking at a usual picture but perhaps looking at the following photo mosiac by Dinesh would give you an insight of what this means:

mosiac image

A photo mosiac | Full image

The above is a photo mosiac which is a set of images that are arranged so as to help the brain create a bigger image (of the Indian flag). Note that the individual images that make up the flag are further made of very small dots, an example is shown below (image from Wikipedia):

pixel image

2. If we divide a moving scene into a sequence of still images and show the images in a rapid succession, then the brain reassembles the individual still images and forms a single moving scene which we call a video.

Now, technically, there is a number associated with the number of images we need to show in succession with respect to how rapid the images should be. To have a video, it is known that 15 subtly different sequential images need to be shown in 1 second to have what is called a video. The images that form the video are also called frames. And the figure describing the number of frames per second is called the frame rate. So, for a proper video, we need 15 frames per second or 15 fps. Anything less than that will result in a jerky set of images or what you may also call animated images.

images set

A sequence of images


Same sequence as animation

the kiss strip

Film strip from “This Kiss”

We can see how images are interpreted and how video is really just a set of images shown at a particular speed one after the other such that they make some meaning or sequence. This is how images and videos are interpreted by the human brain. A lot of advances and new technologies have developed but this is something which always stays the same and changes only with evolution. Thanks a lot for reading. Do share your comments.

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1 Comment

  1. Tanmana Sadhu on

    Interesting article…What you have talked about here are mainly digital images right? But the brain should be able to interpret spectral images as well….a further comparison between digital and analog images might have given a clearer picture I think…