Neuroscience and Doc Ellis' acid trip


Last week, Xeni posted a link to Deadspin's attempt to recreate Doc Ellis' famous No Hitter on Acid, but with XBox baseball. In the comments, somebody mentioned having heard an interview with Ellis where he talked about seeing the catcher's mitt as a larger than real-life target and knowing that the ball belonged there.

Apparently, that perceptual experience isn't limited to sports players who are tripping balls. Scientific American Mind has a story out about "action-specific perception," a long-documented phenomenon in many sports, where people who hit a target (be it a catcher's mitt or a golf hole) remembered the target as being larger than it actually was. (The full story is behind a paywall, or you can read it in the print magazine.)

If LSD can't be blamed, then what? Scientists aren't exactly sure. But some recent experiments suggest that it's not just about visualization or a post-event editing feature that happens after you know you hit the target. Instead, visual attention—basically, homing in on that one thing and not being distracted by other stuff happening around you—seems to be a key.

Image: Catcher, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from aturkus's photostream