by Vadim

Faces and Bodies: Perception

January 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

The understanding of the visual processing mechanisms in human brain provides clues to human behavior. For the brain networks, "human faces and bodies are complex and interesting perceptual objects" . How similar are the mechanisms used to recognize faces and bodies, and why is it important?

A psychological study done at the University of Texas in 2013 revealed that "people do better at facial recognition when the whole person, not just the face, is presented". It appears that "when faces are partially obscured or difficult to differentiate, subtle body cues allow people to identify others with surprising accuracy" .

Earliest recorded signs of clothing date to 36,000 BCE. So, in the time-scale of evolution, clothing is a relatively new invention. Taking this into account, two scientists have assumed that it is possible "that the responses of the brain networks specialized in body perception could show attenuated responses towards bodies wearing clothing" . It indeed turned out that "the human brain showed enhanced visual processing of nude over clothed bodies". Human visual system has been found to be particularly sensitive to detecting nude bodies. The response traditionally assumed to be most pronounced to human faces proved to be even greater to nude bodies than to faces .

There's a long-standing question: What happened during the course of evolution to make humans so dramatically different in intelligence and abilities from even our closest relatives, primates ? One of the most distinctive evolutionary changes as humans "parted company from their fellow apes" was their loss of body hair . In this sense, from the perspective of the furless humans, the invention of clothing is equivalent to an evolutionary step backwards.

Naked skin played a crucial role in the evolution of characteristic human traits . Among primates, humans are unique in having nearly naked skin and the largest brain. The brain itself prioritizes the visual processing of nude bodies, while at the same time letting us "make sense of the world" . Maybe that's why clothing often seems senseless.

A modified version of the post can be found at

Virginia Slaughter, Valerie E. Stone and Catherine Reed, Perception of Faces and Bodies. Similar or Different?, Current Directions in Psychological Science 2004 vol. 13 no. 6 219-223
Study: People use body cues to help identify faces
J.K. Hietanen, L. Nummenmaa, The naked truth: the face and body sensitive N170 response is enhanced for nude bodies, PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e24408
Study: How Human Evolution Caused us to Lose Our Spiny Penises
Why Humans and Their Fur Parted Ways
The Naked Truth: Why Humans Have No Fur
Brain – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

by Vadim

Nudity in dreams

January 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

Sigmund Freud once said that his favourite dream was "being naked in a crowd of strangers". I have read about it on Dream Sleep, "the official dream website of … the author of The Hidden Meaning of Dreams and other bestselling titles". It is also mentioned that "dreams about being naked in a public place are one of the most commonly reported dreams". Another recognized specialist in dreams points out that "nudity in dreams often occurs in scenarios that would shock us in our waking hours".

What is the meaning of these dreams? (The interpretation of the dream, of course, "depends on a person's past experience and the person's system of values".) According to dream interpreters,

if, in your dream, you appear " nude before friends or colleagues ", it may reflect your feelings of vulnerability, or that you are hiding something, for instance, keeping some aspect of your character a secret.
If no one else in the dream notices your nakedness , "it indicates that fears of appearing foolish in front of others are unfounded".
If not you, but others appear nude , "the dream may indicate that the dreamer is able to see through the defenses or lies of others".
If " the dreamer feels disgusted by the nudity of others" in his or her dream, this may mean that he or she is disappointed in them, or don't want to "let others be themselves".
Finally, if the dreamer accepts the nakedness of those around him", he or she "has probably shed outmoded beliefs and accepted others for what they are".

The last interpretation seems the most plausible to me. The events of the dreams give clues to hidden and unacknowledged beliefs. Maybe, one day we, most of us, will acknowledge that we are ready to step out of the dream and drop outmoded beliefs in reality, accepting the nakedness "of those around us" and allowing others to be themselves.

1. Dream Sleep,
2. Judith Millidge, The handbook of dreams: how to interpret and understand your dreams, Barnes & Noble Books, 2004.
3. Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Sheryl Martin, The Tao of Dreaming, Berkley Books, New York, 2005.

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