Understanding Perception: How We Experience the Meaning We Create

To promote the upcoming Future of Storytelling conference, London-based studio Lazy Chief brought the words and wisdom of neuroscientist Beau Lotto to life.

The resulting 4-minute short film is a mind-altering explanation of the way that evolution has shaped the way we perceive the world. Rendered in a simple two-tone style, Lazy Chief did a superb job illustrating the underlying concepts, often going beyond a simple say-cow-see-cow approach.

Perhaps the most fascinating insight, one that has relevance for visual communicators of all kinds, is that our brains don’t differentiate between imagined stimuli and real stimuli.

According to Professor Lotto:

[W]hat’s remarkable is that when we imagine something, it activates the same part of our brain as if we’re actually seeing it. So imagined perception is the same as a real perception.

This has tremendous impact for thinking about the narratives that a culture tells itself.

In short, the stories we tell each other and the resultant worlds that we imagine can shape — in a real, literal way — our actions and relationships with one another.


Director: Steve West
Production: Lazy Chief
Music: Marmoset