A study from the University of Arizona suggests that your brain takes in and processes information, even though you may not be consciously aware of much of the results.
As Mary Peterson, Professor of Psychology and Director of UA’s Cognitive Science Program, described the results:
Many, many theorists assume that because it takes a lot of energy for brain processing, that the brain is only going to spend time processing what you’re ultimately going to perceive, but in fact the brain is deciding what you’re going to perceive, and it’s processing all of the information and then it’s determining what’s the best interpretation.
This is a window into what the brain is doing all the time. It’s always sifting through a variety of possibilities and finding the best interpretation for what’s out there. And the best interpretation may vary with the situation.
Note the reference to orientation implicitly controlling observation –“the brain is deciding what you’re going to perceive.” It is possible, although the article doesn’t address this question, that the “non-perceived” information may be stored somewhere in your brain and may influence your orientation, that it may affect your actions.
The study also points out that the brain registers the presence of external objects in about .4 seconds, which may provide insight into the conditions necessary for operating inside an opponent’s OODA loop.
[Original article, “Your brain sees things you don’t,” on EarthSky.org, 13 Nov 2013.]