By Jess Murray
A new study has found that those who are more open to adventure can see the world entirely differently from those who aren’t. One of the main reasons is due to the fact that if you are open to new experiences and willing to try new things then your brain is able to take in more information than others, whilst also combining that information in a unique way. Reports have suggested that this could be an indication of why those people are also more creative.
Anna Antinori from the University of Melbourne in Australia worked with her team to conduct a new study which involved getting 123 university students to complete a binocular rivalry test. This involved the students seeing a red image in one eye and a green image with the other eye for a continuous period of two minutes. Although the brain is usually only able to perceive one image at a time, resulting in the majority of participants seeing the image flip between red and green, some of the students were able to see two images that were merged together into red and green. This is known as a mixed percept and relates to past evidence which states that people who have a greater degree of openness are also more likely to have a better visual awareness.
This concept also ties in with the characteristic of openness, which some studies claim is linked to those who do well at tasks that are designed to test creative ideas and using imagination.
Antinori is using her study to show that people who score better in the openness trait “see” more possibilities. She explained, “They seem to have a more flexible gate for the visual information that breaks through into their consciousness…When you present open people with the binocular rivalry dilemma, their brains are able to flexibly engage with less conventional solutions. We believe this is the first empirical evidence that they have different visual experiences to the average individual. When they come up with all these crazy new uses for bricks, it might be because they really perceive the world differently.”
In addition to these new findings, the results also suggest that people who are more open are also more prone to both paranoia and delusions. Niko Tiliopoulos from the University of Sydney, Australia, said, “At those levels of openness, people may actually see reality differently. For example, they may ‘see’ spirits, or misinterpret interpersonal or other signals.”
The team has also found that particular forms of meditation can possibly increase the mixed image perception in binocular rivalry tests, and they are now looking to see if there are similar neural processes involved in “mixed perception, creative thinking and the shifts in visual perception caused by psilocybin and meditation”. Antinori said, “It seems that openness alters the filter of consciousness, and we’d like to know how.”
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