Fall officially begins Sunday and the Harvest Moon follows a day later, bringing back around one of the great lunar debates: Why is the Harvest Moon so mind-blowingly big? It’s not. It’s one of those things your mind talked you into believing. It’s all in your head.
And your young children have an edge on you in this respect. They gaze at the moon over the horizon and see it as it is: The bright, orange Harvest Moon isn’t any bigger than any other moon, and they’ll remain unimpressed by the lunar hoopla.
When context is misleading, as it is with the Harvest Moon illusion, adults see the world less accurately than they did as children, according to researchers in the U.K. studying the Ebbinghaus illusion, the optical illusion of relative size perception.
Among kids younger than 7, what’s around them doesn’t alter what they’re seeing right in front them. They’re still living in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get world.
The visual-attention system adds the context to determine the size of an object or thing. When things are far away, they’re usually surrounded by other things that look small, and things that are both small and close are surrounded by bigger objects.
But even if their eyes are telling them two objects are the same size, adults quickly recalibrate when they’re asked to reach for them, according to research suggesting there are two separate pathways for vision in the brain. One is used for identifying objects, the other for action.
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