The more you know the less you see!

[Added June 2005]
When an adult sees a cat, in fact he doesn’t see it:he just thinks “big deal, it’s only a cat, why I should pay attention?”.
But what was the color of the eyes, the color of the fur, etc…If you ask him
later, he doesn’t remember because he has not paid attention in the first place.
Childs instead remember every detail of the cat.

But also the adult can remember a cat like a child . He has only to increase the attention level with some trick. For example giving the cat names of other
animals or objects. “What a lovely onion with wiskers!”
All this has been confirmed by an experiment.

Entering in a painting to remember it

[Added November 1997]
In the movie Dreams by Kurosawa there is this delightful episode
where the hero enters literally in a Van Gogh painting. Of course, if we
could enter a painting or a image with the mind’s eye, the experience would
be unforgettable and we would remember all the details of the image. In fact
something like this happens when we visit a place that we saw before only in
a photograph.The experience will change completely our perception of the
image and we now for the first time notice in it details that were completely missed before our real life visit. The problem is that we usually look
at an image just the time to “classify” it and then we remember only this
approximate classification.It was a church, a woman, etc But all the details
are lost in the process. Did the church have a clocktower, what kind of cloth
was the woman wearing? There is a way that can be sometime used to avoid
this kind of blindness to images resulting from our predominant verbal
knowledge:by looking with a magnifying lens at the image and exploring it
piece by piece we can have a more vivid experience of the same image
and in this way increase the chance of remembering single details.