Brain and Behavior

Sensation and Perception

Do different people perceive the same event differently?

As mentioned above, the brain does not record reality like a camera; it constructs a representation of reality through analysis and synthesis of sensory information. Therefore, each person’s perception of any given event will be unique, which explains why people can have such differing memories of the same event. Even if the same sensory information is available to two different people, the unique history of each person’s brain will ensure that the final perception of each individual will differ, colored by variations in the individuals’ attention, memories, emotional states, etc. Moreover, the exact sensory information in any given event will never be identical for any two people because the position in space of each person’s body will necessarily differ. All these factors will continue to color the memory of the event at later times. This is well understood in legal contexts and is the reason that eye witness testimony can be highly problematic.


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