I like to try new things. It has served me pretty well. For example, I didn’t grow up eating curry, but I sure love it now. Did you know that research indicates people who are open to trying new things might have an altered view of reality. No! It’s not because they’re open to illicit drugs. (Or at least, that’s not what was researched.)
This is where binocular rivalry comes into play. Binocular rivalry is pretty cool. You know those photos where someone asks you what you see, and you either see an old woman or a young woman? When someone points out the other image, your mind can’t make up which one, so it alternates or oscillates between the two. That’s binocular rivalry! Your mind can’t make sense of it, so it alternates between what makes sense. Formal explanation:
Each of our eyes normally sees a slightly different image of the world around us. The brain can combine these two images into a single coherent representation. However, when the eyes are presented with images that are sufficiently different from each other, an interesting thing happens: Rather than fusing the two images into a combined conscious percept, what transpires is a pattern of perceptual alternations where one image dominates awareness while the other is suppressed; dominance alternates between the two images, typically every few seconds. This perceptual phenomenon is known as binocular rivalry. Binocular rivalry is considered useful for studying perceptual selection and awareness.David Carmel, in an article in Journal for Visualized Experiments, 2010.
Who cares? What does it mean? Why is it important?
Not everyone oscillates between the two images that they see. Or at least not when very simple images are used. Individuals who are more open to change can actually combine the images into a mix of the two and not oscillate between what is actually there. The thinking is that their view of reality or openness to change allows them to reconcile the two images. Pretty cool, huh!?
This has some basic application for life. “Try new things,” they say. “You might like them,” they say. It is true. You might like them, but overcoming resistance to change or new experiences takes a bit of courage. Having a different view of reality though can make you more resilient (fancy word for an acceptable level of stubbornness, the good kind). It keeps you from being bored, which I’m sure no one has experienced in 2020, since we’ve all been free to travel and visit museums at our liesure.
Finally, trying new things forces you to grow. During a pandemic, we’ve been stretched, possibly past a breaking point once or twice, but we’ve made it this far. Now is the time to try something new. Which brings me to the not-so random photo above. Trying new things doesn’t have to be about food, but it is the low-hanging fruit, so to speak.
The photo above is roasted rutabaga and onions. A rutabaga is similar to a turnip. They are relatively inexpensive and like other root vegetables, they keep for a while. The ones you buy at Schnucks will be wax coated. Peel the rutabaga and cut it into pieces that will fit nicely on a fork. Drizzle with olive oil; throw in an onion chunked. Add a little salt and pepper and stir it around. Roast on a jelly roll pan at 375 degrees until the rutabaga can be stabbed with a fork. Start checking after 40 minutes. Will you love it? Maybe. But even if you don’t, you’ll have experienced something new.
Q: Where did the rutabaga go to have a few drinks?
A: The Salad Bar!
Learn more about binocular rivalry here.
Be happy and healthy!