Priors are what neuroscientists and philosophers call the years of experience and regularity leading up to the present. All the ways a ball has bounced, all the ways a pancake has tasted, the way the dogs in your life have barks, or bitten, or hugged you when you were sad -- these all shape the brain, literally. They form and prune our neural networks, so in situations that are uncertain, unfamiliar or ambiguous, we depend on those priors to help us disambiguate the new information coming into the brain via our senses.
But what happens when we don't share those priors?
This episode is about the science behind The Dress, why some people see it as black and blue, and others see it as white and gold. But it’s also about how the scientific investigation of The Dress led to the scientific investigation of socks and Crocs, and how the scientific investigation of socks and Crocs may be, as one researcher told me, the nuclear bomb of cognitive neuroscience.
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