The Treachery of Images: How Realism Influences Brain and Behavior
Trends in Cognitive Sciences
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Although the cognitive sciences aim to ultimately understand behavior and brain function in the real world, for historical and practical reasons, the field has relied heavily on artificial stimuli, typically pictures. We review a growing body of evidence that both behavior and brain function differ between image proxies and real, tangible objects. We also propose a new framework for immersive neuroscience to combine two approaches: (i) the traditional build-up approach of gradually combining simplified stimuli, tasks, and processes; and (ii) a newer tear-down approach that begins with reality and compelling simulations such as virtual reality to determine which elements critically affect behavior and brain processing.