"Mild Hallucination" Test

post by elriggs · 2019-10-10T17:57:42.471Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW · 52 comments

Contents

  Test 1: Visual Snow
  Test 2: Afterimage Around Objects
  Test 3: Breathing Walls
None
52 comments

In Scott Alexander's Lot's of People Going Around with Mild Hallucinations All the Time, he shows that several people not currently on LSD still experience mild hallucinations commonly associated with currently taking LSD.

I would like to test to see if I could teach you how to see these mild hallucinations, regardless of experience with psychedelics. Below are 3 tests that should take 1-2 minutes to complete. If you choose to complete 1 or more of these, please comment both failed and successful attempts. Please also comment if you can already see some of these, even if you think it seems obvious.

Test 1: Visual Snow

Description: See the Visual Snow Wiki for a nice visualization on the top-right. I would describe it as "jumpy spiderwebs made out of light", similar in feel to the "black stars" people see when feeling faint (when they get up too quick).

I would say it's NOT the same experience as mental imagination or eye floaters.

[Edit: Honestly I mixed up different phenomena for "visual snow" in my description. Here's the update:

1. Visual Snow - Like a million very tiny dots. Very much like static/white noise in the wiki. More visible in low light conditions or when you're tired. I saw it for the first time this (8/12) morning in low-light conditions.
2. Patterned lines (?) - Like the geometric/kaleidoscopic shape in this picture. Doesn't have to be that consistent or patterned but is better described by "lines" than either of the other two. This is what I meant by "jumpy spiderwebs made out of light" and what I thought visual snow was.
3. Blue-sky Sprites - The picture is a nice animation (can be seen without looking at the blue sky but apparently it's more prominent in that case). Dots and wisps the size of a mm or a little bigger. Maybe 5-100 at a time vs the million in "visual snow". Resembles afterimages and the "black stars" when feeling faint.
4. (Also very possible there's more that I've missed)

]

Test: For 1 minute (click here for a 1 minute timer), close your eyes and try to see the back of your eyelids using your peripheral vision. If a minute elapses with nothing resembling "visual snow", then it's a failure.

If it's a success, then try to see visual snow with your eyes open, again for 1 minute at most.

Test 2: Afterimage Around Objects

Description: It's similar in feel to the image on the right in the afterimage wiki. Similar to seeing a bright light and still seeing it in your vision after you look away.

Test: For 2 minutes max (click here for a 2 minute timer), find a brightly colored object that's against a different flat colored background (a red towel hanging in front of a light tan wall, your face in the mirror in front of a white door, etc), and just stare at the object using your peripheral vision. Don't shift your eyes, just pick a spot and focus on your peripheral vision. If you don't see a colored afterimage of the object around parts of that object, then it's a failure.

Test 3: Breathing Walls

Description: It looks like the static surface you're looking at (floors, walls, ceilings) is shifting, rotating, swirling, "breathing" (sort of dilating back and forth?) even though you know that it's actually still static. Usually more apparent in patterned surfaces than plain colored ones.

Test: For 1 minute, find a larger, textured surface (carpet, pop-corn ceilings, [other examples?]), and stare at it using your peripheral vision. If after a minute of staring you don't see any moving, shifting, etc, then it's a failure.

52 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by kithpendragon · 2019-10-11T00:25:24.438Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are people who don't experience (or, perhaps, notice) these things? Huh.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T00:41:58.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for commenting that it's already obvious to you.

Would you comment on which parts of my theory (in my comment) are true for you. Feel free to PM me instead if you don't want to publish that information online.

Also, if you haven't already, I recommend reading the linked post (Lot's of People Going Around with Mild Hallucinations All the Time).

comment by kithpendragon · 2019-10-11T19:05:13.110Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On my neurotype

This question is a bit complicated.

I have no currently diagnosed irregularities, but I did have an ADHD (Primarily Inattentive) as a teen. I was on medication for a while, then stopped taking it in college when I noticed it wasn't really helping anymore. In hindsight, I wonder if the issue in highschool was really stress combined with chronic sleep deprivation. Make of that what you will.

I do get surprised looks from doctors all the time, tho. They seem frequently startled at how in tune I am with my body and senses, so I take that as a bit irregular.

I've never used any hallucinogens.

On my meditative practice

I've been practicing vipassana and shamatha meditation for about two years now. I tend to agree that especially vipassana meditation, which is all about noticing the bare reality of the senses, would make one more likely to notice visual snow and the like if the effects are, indeed, present in most/all experiences.

That said, I have been aware of all three effects (and more) since I was a child, long before I began meditating.

On visual snow

I've known about the staticky lights or colors visible in the darker places for as long as I can remember. At this moment, I can also detect the snow in my visual field in full daylight with eyes open. I recall asking about it as a child, but in the absence of the internet my research capacity was limited. At the time, the answer I got was "yeah, that's a thing". I came to assume that visual snow was somehow related to the lights I see when gently pressing on the eye. Later, I seem to remember hearing something about cosmic rays or some such. Giving it a quick think just now, I wonder if the phenomenon occurrs in the eye or the brain. Both are consistent with your low-level sensory processing theory.

On afterimages

Likewise, I've long been aware of the glowing outlines that can appear when the eyes rest on a place for some time. They are more likely to show up in high-contrast areas of the visual field, and I'm pretty sure they are afterimages revealed by the involuntary movements of the eye.

On breathing walls

I've noticed this one forever, too. Usually this happens when I'm staring at the ceiling for whatever reason and I notice a sort of rocking, drifting tendency in the image. Like the afterimage glow, I think this has to do with involuntary eye movements. I seem to recall an experiment where people are placed in a dark room with a bright dot projected on an otherwise reference-free visual plane. Those people will consistently report the dot drifting around despite its lack of actual motion.

Similar effects

  • If I am still enough I can detect a light tingle in any arbitrary patch of skin. Did not notice this until I'd been meditating for a while.
  • In quiet environments, multiple changing tones become evident in each ear. I initially assumed this was tinnitus, but they don't quite fit with my reading on that affliction.
  • Long ago, I noticed that staring at a fixed point will eventually render the entire visual field gray as the retina seems to get fatigued and kind of just give up. The effect reduces a bit with each involuntary eye movement, but with curious care I can make the visual field almost completely smooth. In this state, I have not been able to perceive visual snow.
  • I've also become aware that if I look at a bright, clear sky (and in a few other situations) I can see what turns out to be the blood flowing through the retina. While looking for a graphic, I just learned that this is called blue-sky sprites and the linked Wikipedia article has a good animation of them.
comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T09:51:48.460Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That’s a really good animation for the blue-sky sprites. When teaching a friend to see visual snow, they could only see these.

Do you see the kaleidoscopic, patterned lines like the picture from slate star codex’s article? It’s not always regular or geometric, but it’s separate from visual snow and blue-sky sprites. Actually, I had never seen visual snow until this morning in low light conditions. I thought the patterned lines were visual snow the whole time!

comment by kithpendragon · 2019-10-12T13:07:22.936Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The short answer is "not like that" and "depends on conditions".

Although I can perceive the snow simply by inclining my attention toward it, most of the time I have difficulty "watching" it because the eyes try to focus on and follow the lights. This doesn't work, I assume because visual snow is a fact of biology and not actually made of photons from the environment. In any case, the movement in the eyes seems to trigger some processing subroutine that renders the noise very briefly smooth and I cannot discern any patterns. I expect this effect is related to (saccadic masking)[https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccadic_masking?wprov=sfla1], which renders us functionally blind for a few milliseconds every time the eye moves.

Under these conditions, and with eyes open, the snow overlay reminds me most of an old TV with the antenna just slightly out of alignment, or maybe a very slightly grainy photograph. If I were to try to simulate this mode on a graphic I would use HSV color space and add just a little random noise on the Value channel, perhaps with some very transparent noise "clouds" to imply local variations in density. (I'm at work now or I would just do so to make it more clear.)

With eyes closed, I see thousands of tiny blue-white blobs on a dark or red background, depending on ambient light levels.

If the mind is sufficiently concentrated that the eyes don't try to focus and follow, I often begin to experience (create?) patterns in the noise. When I was younger, the noise would produce random large blobs of higher density (still made of tiny blobs) that would continuously change position, shape, size, and to a small degree color. Since I began meditating, instead of the blobs I sometimes get a swirling blue pattern that reminds me of water going down a drain at the center of the field of vision.

As for any sort of patterned lines, I'm afraid I can only report strong afterimages from reading on lit screens for long stretches. Nothing like the diffraction-grating-looking awesomeness in that image.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T16:39:47.031Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the info!

I also especially liked the saccadic masking, specifically

This can easily be duplicated by looking into a mirror, and looking from one eye to another. The eyes can never be observed in motion, yet an external observer clearly sees the motion of the eyes.

Which I remember trying and failing to do a few years ago. I recently lost my vision in one of my eyes, so it seems impossible to try the mirror test now (Although I still don't notice movement in my peripheral switching from my good eye to my nose, so maybe?).

comment by kithpendragon · 2019-10-12T19:04:40.474Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're very welcome!

Compassion for the loss of the use of your eye. Out of curiosity, do you think the loss of vision in that eye affected your perception of these effects?

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T20:01:06.934Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, and curious questions are welcomed.

I don't think it's affected it, though I don't have an easy way to compare. I lost most of that vision last August, have been meditating for a year, and have learned to see these perceptions in the past week. The vision in my left eye is definitely much, much noisier!

You can sort of recreate it by covering one eye and checking, though the difference is my left eye has no lens, no iris, and some retinal detachment.

comment by kithpendragon · 2019-10-11T11:08:51.160Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Was my comment too casual? Sorry for that. My intent was to express surprise and I didn't have much time. I'll be happy to elaborate when I get a proper chance to sit down and write sometime in the next couple days.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T12:54:36.769Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I appreciate that, but really your comment was fine and provided useful information. I’m just excited about this currently and want to talk about it more.

Also, the recommended reading I linked was more for your own curiosity’s sake as opposed to a pre-req, in case it came across that way.

comment by kithpendragon · 2019-10-11T15:17:22.623Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

After a quick look I actually remember reading Scott's article when it posted, but for whatever reason it didn't rise above the level of "momentarily interesting" at the time and I forgot about it. Must've been tired or something. In any case, I've made some time to gather my thoughts (which I found to be much more organized and detailed than I expected) and should have a few paragraphs for you, probably by the end of the day.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-10T18:12:24.393Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here, I would like to share my current theory on the type of people who are more prone to see this and why. Definitely inspired by Scott Alexander's previous writings.

I believe these hallucinations are just low-level processing information. I believe that being neurodivergent, taking psychedelics, and meditating all help more naturally see low-level sensory information.

I think Psychadelics causing these hallucinations is already agreed upon, so I won't defend it here.

Regarding meditation, I'm neurotypical and haven't taken psychedelics. I wasn't able to see these hallucinations until meditating consistently for a year, although I can't say I ever tried very hard to do these things. Like, would I have seen them if I tried the tests in this post a few years ago?

Regarding neurodivergence, I tried this with my neurodivergent friend. They could see all of them beforehand and was confused because they thought everyone could see them (but that everyone just ignored it and didn't talk about it).

Overall, this is weak evidence, and I'd like to hear other people's experiences and models of this.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-10-10T18:23:46.752Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how neurodivergent I am, but I have seen visual snow since I was a little kid (I used to tell people I could "see the air" and they'd be like "wut????"; can't remember a time I didn't do this) and of course after images, and since meditating more I see glowing effects (not auras), flickering/vibrations, breathing, and even tracers, both during and not during meditation. I also have "tinnitus" that looks like hearing a tone mostly only when other sounds don't drown it out although vary occasionally something "clicks" and I temporarily notice it for a few seconds when things are noisy.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-10T19:47:42.855Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By "glowing effects" do you mean something like the light rays coming off the street lamp in this picture?

Regarding "tinnitus", in the Mind Illuminated, it claims that master of "stage 8" is...

When the eyes perceive only an inner light, the ears perceive only an inner sound, the body is suffused with a sense of pleasure and comfort, and your mental state is one of intense joy.

Do you think this "tinnitus" is the same as this inner sound? I can hear this ringing "inner sound" when I "let go" of hearing. Same with the inner light when I "let go" of seeing. And to add, bodily sensations feel like very fast vibrations when I "let go" of sensing them. (note: I don't claim to have "mastered stage 8"). I think the "click" for me is "letting go", like relaxing a muscle but with sensory information. Is that similar to your experience or not at all?

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-10-10T21:30:50.055Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, that's not quite what I had in mind for glowing, although I do experience something like it in some circumstances. What I meant was more like things feel bright, like they have an inner light shinning out from them.

I do think it's something like what you are describing from The Mind Illuminated. After all, I practice shikantaza, and before it picked up that name it was known as the method of "silent illumination", so it doesn't surprise me to see someone else talking about this as "inner light" (some traditions talk about this as "luminosity"; it feels to me like sensing perfection).

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T14:59:23.243Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think you could write your own type of test for seeing that type of "glowing". Like what's the ideal environment and what should one look for?

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-10-11T16:50:54.310Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Probably not? It's a thing that started happening to me after ~500 hours of meditation, and it happens in any environment. There's not even a thing to look for exactly because it doesn't feel like a normal visual hallucination. Things look basically the same as they did before but it feels like they are bright. Maybe the closest thing would be something like what happens when your eyes are artificially dilated.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T17:34:35.285Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is it similar to when colors are more vibrant on a cloudy day? (When the blue glare of the sky is gone)

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-10-11T20:10:28.801Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's a decent approximation. Same effect at twilight. Although it's missing some really important aspect of the experience that's hard to explain, like it's just visually similar and lacks the aliveness that fills everything when I experience them as glowing or bright or self illuminating.

comment by Slider · 2019-10-11T20:51:25.465Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One perceptual effect I happened to read on somewhat recently is that night vision and dayvision have different color balances which makes hue contrast inversions at twilight where the relative strenghts of night vision and dayvision smoothly vary.

The hypothesis I have in mind is that experience is the result of being aware of the nightvision information channel also at day. In effect "white "is now 4 colors which is "brighter" than 3 colored white.

comment by throwawayshroom · 2019-10-11T21:02:01.200Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Throwaway account)

I've known I've seen visual snow as long as I can remember - I've thought of it as "eye pixels".

I took a moderate dosage of shrooms (approx. 1g) - enough to feel high like taking edible weed, and a little bit of a things-are-connected, but not enough to feel out of it or see hallucinations.

When I closed my eyes, I was surprised to notice the visual snow didn't look the same anymore. Now it formed into kaleidoscope patterns. It was the same color and density as the visual snow, but now it no longer looked like random noise- it mostly looked like hexagons, but also some other regular patterns.

The exact pattern that was formed would change from second to second - but it was a regular pattern repeated all across my visual field and made from the visual snow. The "my vision / normal vision" in Scott's post is accurate, except imagine those patterns just when I close my eyes or looked at something plain like a featureless wall, and made from the visual snow.

Note it wasn't visual snow with this pattern overlaid - the visual snow had become this pattern.

It's weird, because I remember thinking to myself at the time:

"My eyes are not firing in a way to produce these patterns, some low level part of my visual processing is telling me that these patterns exist, and yet they look as real as anything I see. It's not the same as when my visual imagination is strong and I visualize (like just before drifting off) or when I'm dreaming. It's literally there (though faint). I'm not controlling it or imagining it. This is input to my conscious perception of reality."

I felt like I had a first-hand insight into how processed by our body and mind our view of the world is - how what we see is not literally what's coming into our eyes. Because suddenly random noise literally did not look like random noise any more. Along with the heightened sense of profundity that one experiences too, this felt like a significant realization.

I also wonder how much my perception of what I view as simply real, what I experience as being just-so on a conscious level is actually strongly filtered in this sense from a lower level, in such a way that as much as you might be able to reason about it and say "aha, there aren't actually any hexagons" it doesn't change the fact that you will still literally in your conscious mind get that input of "there are hexagons" (where here "hexagons" are a metaphor for ideas in general).



comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T14:56:59.658Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for taking the time make another account!

That's interesting. I see the "kaleidoscope patterns" like the picture, but also like ~100 pulsating/popping tiny dots that resemble afterimages (is this what others think for visual snow?).

I view these as two separate low-level information because I could see the first yesterday, but I can now see the second today. Someone I asked today could only see the second. But, you said

Note it wasn't visual snow with this pattern overlaid - the visual snow had become this pattern.

which makes it seem like you view them as one and the same?

Also, that insight seems related to concepts explored in the book Seeing that Frees, and the podcast Deconstructing Yourself. I'd also be more than happy to discuss that insight with you though I am by no means an expert.

comment by Elo · 2019-10-11T20:10:30.842Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like from a rational perspective we can notice that our sensors are fallible.

Breathing walls seems to be the whole body/heart beat throwing the visual field out of lock. Usually counteracted by the brain in normal processing of the vision.

Visual snow is the noise in the visual field if it's too sensitive and after image is literally after image in the proteins in the back of the eye.

The gap between the sensor bug, brain compensation mechanism and imaginary mental "control" of a kasina after image is a pretty slim one.

It is interesting to explore that and hopefully can help break people out of perfect trust in what they have of their sensory apparatuses and brain interpretation mechanisms

Some people have it more than others.

From a non rational and mystical perspective, as the distinction between map and territory becomes blurred and the white noise can organise itself into information, there are interesting things to be learned about the way that s1 "knows" things that system 2 does not explicitly know until it self inquires.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T10:44:17.146Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could you give examples of s1 "knowing" things until s2 inquires? I can understand how it "knows" visual snow, and by doing these tests we are "inquiring" about it. But I'm sure there are other contexts (other than visual information) where this concept is true.

comment by Elo · 2019-10-16T20:27:56.382Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

S1 knows a lot of things. Some examples include "gut feel", that can usually be inquired about and led back to a memory.

Example: I was once playing Blood on the Clocktower, a group party game. I used my gut to suspect someone, when I asked it why, A moment of the person looking down in a particular way after saying something came to mind. Turns out I was right and we killed the evil person on the first turn. Something that's supposed to take all game.

S1 knows how to ski better than S2. When I went skiing a few years ago, people would ski for a bit while watching what their s1 was doing, then stop to explain which way to lean or how to ski and repeat for a few instructions (lean to the left, put the weight to the right). Skiing has some counter-lean behaviours which are hard to insist via s2 first.

The same thing applies for juggling, or learning how to juggle, riding a bike, swimming, dancing, and most physical skills.

S1 also handles emotions better, where s2 would like to cognitively soothe via intellectual justification, s1 can usually declare, "I feel bad", and soothe via self validation of emotion in a way that s2 can only narrative about how I feel bad and why.

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-11T18:38:49.424Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I could already see all 3 of these.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T10:04:16.913Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would you be willing to comment on the role of neurodivergence, meditation, psychedelic experiences, or a 4th alternative, that may explain why you can already see all of them?

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-14T07:52:01.255Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have any clear explanation. I noticed them before I ever tried meditation or drugs. It's possible that I'm neurodivergent but I'm not sure.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T10:02:42.710Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Honestly I mixed up different phenomena for "visual snow" in my description:

1. Visual Snow - Like a million very tiny dots. Very much like static/white noise

2. Patterned lines (?) - Like the geometric shape in this picture. Doesn't have to be that consistent or patterned but is better described by "lines" than either of the other two.

3. Blue-sky Sprites - The picture is a nice animation. This can be seen without looking at the blue sky but apparently it's more prominent in that case.

Did you mean #1 for the "visual snow"?

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-14T07:39:42.270Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I meant #1. It's only noticeable with my eyes open when I look at a textureless dark surface. If I sit with my eyes closed and concentrate on the visual snow for several minutes, it will usually progress to level 2 or 3 described here. But that goes away immediately when I open my eyes, unless the surroundings are completely dark.

comment by moses · 2019-10-11T14:01:32.033Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All work for me. I've had psychedelics a few times.

Also, while watching out for the snow (very prominent once you know what you're looking for, kinda like tinnitus), I noticed how (if you keep your vision still) everything constantly glides/shifts/jerks around a little bit, like when you're really drunk.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T14:39:28.165Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for pointing that out. While trying to notice the "glides/shifts/jerks", I was looking through a door and it looked like I was on a rocking boat. Like different "background layers" (like at a play or picture book) where shifting in different directions.

comment by throwawayshroom · 2019-10-11T14:26:43.491Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Visual Snow is obvious.

Afterimages are obvious.

Breathing walls are obvious when I've had too much coffee.

comment by Slider · 2019-10-11T12:36:01.773Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Visual snow is obvious.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T13:08:32.783Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for commenting that like I requested!

What are your thoughts on the connection to seeing these and neurodivergence, meditation, and psychedelic drug use?

comment by Slider · 2019-10-11T15:08:02.007Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

well neurodivergence would be the main factor for me. It makes sense based on how perception is a multilayered process. Your eye sees only a small portion so most of your visual field is mainly from memory rather than live feed like it feels like. It also feels like not being able to acces the rawer data would be a wierd limitation, that the neurotypical way of seeing where you only experience the abstract deduction is a form of blindness. There is possible shift in focus that is I am not always aware of the mode where the noise is apparent. I would think this is similar with a synesthetic person that sees certain letters a certain color. When such a letter is written in a color that mismatches the brain probably has simultaneous opinions that it should both be color 1 and color 2 and emphasising text context or hue context could make one stand out more.

One of the theories for the type of divergence I have is context-blindness. That would explain that if a more typical brain has very strong magisteria for each kind of context they can't cross-pollute as easily. Thus low-level pattern matching would be encapsulated to be invisible to the rest of the brain.

I guess with meditation black boxes become more white. The effect would depend a lot how how boxed things were to begin with. And it probably isn't activity that is generated but just acknowledged. Thus it is not really hallucinations.

Althought even with proper hallucinations they have some strcture to them probably. Even the super crazy types could be understood by for example experiencing guilt by visual or auditory synesthesia. If it corresponds to a real brain state isn't it in a sense accurate perception of a thing? One could think of a reinforcement learning agent that has one incentive strcture and suddenly shifts to a new one. Probably the old structures would be repurposed in a ad hoc way in service of the new goal. And while the abstraction used in that kind of zig-zag history would probably be weird and not happen in an agent trained directly for the later incentive structure it would probably be the most "directly ot the point" use of the old abstractions. In a similar way if the visual cortex is given raw visual data and then is tasked to produce any information that is useful to other brain parts there is no canon "right data" that would be the "real thing seen". Rather there could be various kinds of information which could tell different useful stories. And what is deemed useful could depend what kinds of data other parts of the brain can utilise.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T15:38:21.717Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
One of the theories for the type of divergence I have is context-blindness. That would explain that if a more typical brain has very strong magisteria for each kind of context they can't cross-pollute as easily. Thus low-level pattern matching would be encapsulated to be invisible to the rest of the brain.

Thanks for pointing out "context-blindness". Let me see if I've got this straight.

A neurotypical has these different contexts/magisteria where different rules and interpretations apply. Someone who is context-blind has trouble identifying different contexts and so applies a global set of rules and interpretations in all situation.(?)

And this relates to low-level patterns because these different contexts are actually just sort of arbitrary, or just social constructs, so they're impossible to see when you're only paying attention to low-level details (?)

comment by Slider · 2019-10-11T16:42:18.031Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well having global set of rules is one feature of the context-blindness explanation for the kind of variation. One of the possible linkages is that appying this kind of universality to moral behaviour allows one to avoid being a hypocrite as you consistently and without fail apply the honed behaviour. In contrast a person with strong comparmentalization has trouble arriving at the generalization. You have "don't steal at shop", "don't steal from family", "don't steal from classmates" ie you accumulate contexts where the behaviour is appropriate/inappropriate. If you get caught stealing and it feels punishing you form an opinion that "I should not steal here" (a very context sensitive person could go "I should not steal at the north end of this store" separate from "I should not steal at the south end of this store") and do not form an opinion of "I should not steal". In away you have to solve the same appropriateness problem all over in a new context. It need not be that the contextes are not recognised but their role in cognition is not so pronounced.

What I was more getting at I guess iddn't write that explicitly is that context affects memory recall and attention too. That is when I try to see an object one doesn't pay attention to a narrow group fo neurons but a whole big data dump most of which is probably irrelevant to the task at hand. However what you don't recall can't be used in the end product of the mental processing. For example in programming it is usual to declare most variables private. But you could declare all variables public. If you do the program constructs can use each others functionality. At the most extreme you could have the program function as a holistic whole where classes refer to each other public variables willy nilly. However if you a have code where there are lots of private variables you can be sure that those variables are refererenced from a narrow range that having the one class definition open you are aware of all the code that could influence it. Trying to do otherwise would not make the program compile or would raise a segfault.

But in a world where there is no segfaults if higher abstraction level is interested in the details it can explicitly go look at them. That is if I call a function and I know that as a side-effect of that the objects internal variables have changed if I want I can go read those variables. [code] result=fruit_detectorIsApple(blob)

curiosity=fruit_detector.pearness [/code] If pearness was declared private this would not be permitted

In brains it could be that if each brain region has a separate memory store that only it has access that would lead to a type of encapsulation. In the reverse if all functionalities dump their data to a common information store then they can interfere/cooperate. At one extreme all data could be sent all the time to all functionalities but each functionality only really digests a small portion of it. But while the production is made seeking for a particular important pieces of data a lot of secondary data would be floating around too. Or in reverse a brain that gets easily confused by garbage data might limit by only transitting information really required for the operations. And this involves hiding/destroying data that doesn't directly answer questions it is asked. LIke in a math test you are supposed to show your midsteps but in this kind of arrangement the less steps revealed the better and preferably only the bottomline.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T10:38:33.286Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
At one extreme all data could be sent all the time to all functionalities but each functionality only really digests a small portion of it.

Is this the context-blind extreme? and

Or in reverse a brain that gets easily confused by garbage data might limit by only transitting information really required for the operations

is the other extreme?

Rephrasing: All people need to filter data, but from which data? Context-blind filters global variables while context-sensitive filters from local variables.

Also, what about games/activities with explicit rules such as chess or programming languages? Wouldn't everyone be able to identify those contexts and apply the right rules? (Assume they know the rules)

comment by Slider · 2019-10-12T14:38:09.288Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well one of the other symptoms sensory-overload could be interpreted as not doing the filtering (I myself don't exhibit that so much but it is connected). In that way it is not strictly neccesary. It's also a multistage process so you might have a global-local-global-local alteration on different parts of the hierachy.

It isn't that absolute and while everyone probably can manage to follow the rules there might be a difference how effortful it is. The theory might not be detailed enough to address questions on that level and i don't have the most up to date familiarity with it (having wrong theory can do a lot of harm and it has fluxed quite a bit). While it is not context-blindness the related trait of literalmindedness would help with explicit rules as you don't have to "apply common sense" but just "execute". In a situation where there are literal rules to be followed and context-sensitive course of action context-blindness would drop the context sensitive option from being relevant. [What I think was such a conflict] (https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/G5TwJ9BGxcgh5DsmQ/yes-requires-the-possibility-of-no#oyoNqpuaanWcXC4uG [LW · GW]) a context heavy person might not even realise that a literal interpretation was possible.

In a way justice is supposed to be blind in a very near sense. If law is being applied to persons differently it easily and quickly becomes unfair. But if there is no special adhereing to such principles the application tends to get uneven.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T17:05:27.373Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I've honestly learned so much throughout our comment thread.

One thing I'm confused about it why/how local contexts recognized by neurotypicals.

Maybe "mimic high-status members of in-group" explains most of it(?), or "what's other people doing?" or "what would someone else in my current role do?"

I think that's confused because if I know what "role" I'm in, then I already have a context in mind, and I'm trying to figure out how that context is derived in the first place!

Maybe contexts feel more solid/real to neurotypicals. "School" feels like a real/solid thing (even though it's just a building where kids ...). "Money" feels like it's real/solid (even though it's just paper or a number in a database with a socially agreed upon value attached). Being a "Good Student" feels real/tangible (even though it's just writing notes directly from the board and ...)

Those 3 examples are definitely things I felt were real/solid/tangible and I didn't connect the "even though it's ..." definitions until highschool/ undergrad.

comment by Slider · 2019-10-13T12:51:18.016Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It does not need to feel like context on the inside and arguably if you are recognising you are in a context you are thinking about the situation in a certain situation-independent way.

I don't know if the analog hold but a typical reinforcement neural network upon error just backpropagates a weigth adjustment. One could think that weights that are moved a lot are interpret to be "very in context" and weights that are moved a lilttle are "somewhat out of context" which would lead a very fuzzy sense of context where there are no hard lines (well before they are reinforced into place). While it might not be realistic it would be computationally tractable to compare two neural networks which are more sharp or diffuse in the propagation weighting which could lead to a different structure in the high-fit state (or different times for reaching that high fit state).

There are a lot of prejudices so there tends to be hiding of these things if they are not strictly neccesary. It feels good to be seen and have that curiosity and openness be a positive interaction.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T16:15:49.348Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No wait, this doesn't make sense framed this way. I think everyone isn't context-blind when the rules are explicit. If we're playing tag, or chess, or programming in Python, (I think) most people know which rules apply in this context because those rules are more explicit.

If so, maybe it's contexts with implicit rules? And implicit rules are learned by mimicking other's reactions?

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T15:27:04.088Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I understand your first point connecting "not seeing rawer data" and a synesthetic person having a mismatched letter/color. I think your main point is: You do/don't see rawer data depending on the context. (Also, can you choose to see the rawer data, or choose to only the abstract deduction?)

I guess with meditation black boxes become more white. The effect would depend a lot how how boxed things were to begin with. And it probably isn't activity that is generated but just acknowledged. Thus it is not really hallucinations

What is "not really hallucinations" here? The 3 tests above? Also, what do you mean by hallucinations in this context?

comment by Slider · 2019-10-11T17:15:06.472Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well my point was that the experience isn't that your vision is replaced by another sensation. In the linked slatestarcodex there is a comparison picture. That kind of thing might suggest that the visual snow would appear the same as if there were mist or something. But it in fact superimposes or some relation which would only make sense in perceptual analysis. Like if you repeat the same word multiple times it can fail to seem like a word. But you are still aware of the all the phonemes/letters of the word. It would be weird if somebody could hear the word but could not hear the individual letters. And hearing the letters doesn't interfere with hearing the word. Saying that hearing single letters would be "hallucinating things that are not there" would be really backwards. So in vision when I can see the rawer visual data I am not seeing stuff that isn't there.

If you have a correctly working monitor and take it appart and study it's function it will stay as a functional monitor. If you wire it differntly then it might function differently but if you refrain from rewiring it stays correctly working. If you look inside and see how your visual cortex works you might change your opinion on your visual cortex but it is unlikely that it started to act up just because you looked into it (in the cognitive sense). On the opposite pole if you intentionally set out to imagine a picture of a apple if your visual cortex complies and provides a red apple picture that would be a hallucination. But if it shares what it already has anyway there is no fraudulent component. If it happens during normal operation it is not an artifact even if you were not aware of it's existence. There is some good quote that has parts to the effect of "People can handle the truth for they are already enduring it "

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-12T10:24:30.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. These all feel like very real sensory information. This is in contrast to being in sleep paralysis and creating extra sensory information or in very vivid dreams, since in both of these cases I realize afterwards "Oh, those weren't real" as in, I didn't actually receive that sensory information.

Also, I made a mistake in my initial post, my correction is separating different things that might be confused with "visual snow" such as:

1. Visual Snow - Like a million very tiny dots. Very much like static/white noise in the wiki. More visible in low light conditions or when you're tired. I saw it for the first time this (8/12) morning in low-light conditions.
2. Patterned lines (?) - Like the geometric/kaleidoscopic shape in this picture. Doesn't have to be that consistent or patterned but is better described by "lines" than either of the other two. This is what I meant by "jumpy spiderwebs made out of light" and what I thought visual snow was.
3. Blue-sky Sprites - The picture is a nice animation (can be seen without looking at the blue sky but apparently it's more prominent in that case). Dots and wisps the size of a mm or a little bigger. Maybe 5-100 at a time vs the million in "visual snow". Resembles afterimages and the "black stars" when feeling faint.
4. (Also very possible there's more that I've missed)

Did you see visual snow as in #1? And the others?

comment by Slider · 2019-10-12T10:45:52.656Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Atleast 1 and I guess 3 too but no 2

comment by bbleeker · 2019-10-11T12:23:32.367Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely see afterimages, and I thought everyone did. I get movement in textured surfaces, but it doesn't look like 'breathing' at all. I get visual snow, but *not* with my eyes closed, only when I'm trying to see if it's raining outside, which can be hard to tell sometimes.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-11T13:00:47.065Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think everyone sees afterimages with lights and the wiki picture linked. For sure not everyone sees afterimages around objects while they’re currently looking at them with their eyes open.

I say that because I never noticed afterimages around objects until recently.

Were you unable to see visual snow after a minute using the instructions?

comment by bbleeker · 2019-11-11T11:57:44.161Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh wait, I misunderstood the afterimage thing. No, I usually don't see them while I'm looking at something, only when I close my eyes or look away. I do sometimes get the effect you describe, but not often. I tried to see the 'snow' again just now, but I didn't see any.

comment by Aaron Teetor (aaron-teetor) · 2019-10-10T19:38:03.639Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have almost no experience with drugs. Used weed twice, have had maybe two dozen drinks in my life mostly separated by at least 3 months, and only had a month or so period in my life where I drank coffee.

I developed visual snow after spending a lot of time working with computers. If I can stay away from screens for a few days it goes away. I've been told by a doctor that it's just eye fatigue leading to a poor ability to see contrast so solid colors look snowy with contrast that isn't actually there. I don't know enough about eyes to know for sure if that's a plausible statement.

comment by elriggs · 2019-10-10T19:51:45.544Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When reading up on this, lots of people said these mild hallucinations were associated with tiredness, migraines, low light levels, and other things.

I assume you've recently spent a lot of time working with computers, and you still see visual snow now? If not, can you see it with the instructions given?