Do Smaller Species See in Slow Motion?

A few years ago I was playing about with the slow motion feature on my camcorder and had a bit of fun speculating about why we don’t see in slow motion. I wondered why flies seem to respond so quickly to stimuli in the environment. Little did I know that a few years later researchers would look at this question in more detail and find some very interesting correlations.

The researchers have recently published this study in the Journal of Animal Behaviour. They hypothesised that species with a higher basal metabolic rate would have more energy to invest in the high resource activity of high resolution motion processing. They also hypothesised that larger species, being less manoeuvrable would have less need for high resolution motion processing with the converse being true for smaller species.

The research group then looked at basal metabolic rate data for several species (although there were a few adjustments explained in the paper).

slowmotionvision

In the graphs above, the researchers have plotted critical flicker fusion frequency (CFF) against Body Mass and Basal Metabolic Rate respectively. Critical flicker fusion frequency is the lowest frequency at which a flashing light source is perceived as constant.

The researchers found the correlation they expected in the graphs above. Correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation but it certainly does provide some strong evidence in support of their hypotheses. So flies may be able to visually process the world much more quickly than we are. Could this apply to humans during development?

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

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