Perception precedes Action!

Perception trumps reality. Perception comes from our beliefs, knowledge and experiences. The story of reality is constructed in the frontal lobes and not entirely in our visual cortex according to neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh research professor at Dartmouth College. Our frontal lobes are responsible for the higher-level thinking dedicated to anticipation and decision making, among other high-level functions.

Optical Illusions

Optical Illusions are the result of the arrangement of images, the effect of colours, the effect of light, and other variables. These visual stimuli are perceived by the eyes and then comprehended by our brains. Vision is a complex system that involves approximately 30 areas of our brain.

Let's dive quickly into vision. It starts when light enters our eyes and hits our retina, a tissue found at the back of our eye. It's converted into electrical signals that then has to travel to our visual cortex at the back of our brains. From our visual cortex, our perception of reality is constructed as it moves forward to the different areas of our brain like our frontal lobe. As a result of the filtering and modification of the original signal, our perception of reality is often delayed by hundreds of milliseconds according to Adam Hantman neuroscientist of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. So the brain solves this potential issue by creating a reality, that's not always accurate, based on our assumptions about the arrangement of objects, effects of colour, the impact of the light source, and a number of other variables.

Error Correction

Actual sensory information serves as error correction. In the case of optical illusions, this isn't always the case. Even when you know how an illusion works you still "can't seem to consciously override the "wrong" interpretation " suggests Justin Gardner Standford University neuroscientist.

Consider the Kanizsa Triangle Illusion. This illusion was first described in 1955 by an Italian Psychologist named Gaetano Kanizsa. In the illusion, a white triangle appears in the image even though there is not actually a triangle there.

Consider Victoria Skye's Cafe Wall optical illusion. Do the horizontal bars look like they slant and are at an angle? They are actually straight and in parallel rows. The alternating slanting of the target patterns, rows and colours all combine to trick your brain.

Can we overcome our perceptual biases with sensory information? Simply put, yes! Consider the game of golf, a game played on a landscape that was designed to awe, intimidate, puzzle, aggravate, obsess, challenge but most importantly drain water. So now imagine all the sensory information your brain is receiving at any given moment on top of the effects of slope, and aside from the important pieces of data preceding your decision to commit to yardage, a shot, a club, a line. Those at an elite level overcome these assumptions routinely. Now imagine relying on less than accurate sensory information and how this may lead to an accumulation of errors resulting in catastrophic effects on your motor control.

Let's dive into Putting for a moment. According to Elite PGA putting coach Phil Kenyon, the number one reason why most golfers struggle to hole putts consistently is poor concepts like the belief that the putting stroke goes straight back and straight through. According to Phil, starting line, speed control, and green reading are skills that are crucial for holing more putts. Consider this 42% of all strokes are made on the putting green, according to Puttview. Statistically, only 30.1% of putts are holed from 12 feet by PGA Tour players. From 3-6 feet PGA Tour players seldomly miss from this distance, making 99.4% from 2-3 feet to 70.21% from 6 feet. According to Quintic Golf, from this distance of 2-3 feet, a face angle of +/- 2.6 degrees can still be holed as long as your start line was aimed at the centre of a cup that measures 4.25 inches in diameter. The margin shrinks to 0.69 degrees from 12 feet. According to Phil, the 3 fundamentals of great putting are, starting the ball on-line, controlling your speed, and green reading. Becoming proficient at these skills can potentially shave 6 strokes off your game.

Remember sensory information serves as error corrections. Keep in mind that your perception of the line may be influenced by many factors including your posture, eye dominance, slope, ball position, unique putter settings, putter design, head tilt, green contours, light source, beliefs, and experiences. Accurate sensory information serves as error corrections. So hacking your putting game might be as simple as 1, 2, 3. According to Phil the three simple steps to develop great aim are.

  1. Understand and manage your perceptual biases.

  2. Calibrate your ideal setup frequently.

  3. Make sure the shape and features of your putter compliment you.

Leave a comment below. Tell me what strategies you're using to overcome your perceptual biases.


American Psychological Association. Zollner illusion

Hurrion, Paul, MacKay, Jim. Retrieved from

Kenyon, Phil. Retrieved from

Resnick, Brian. (2022, June 22). "Reality" is constructed by your brain. Here's what that means, and why it matters. Retrieved from

Sakiyama T., Sasaki A., Gunji YP. Origin of Kanizsa Triangle Illusion. In: Rhee SY., Park J., Inoue A. (eds) Soft Computing in Machine Learning. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 273. Springer, Cham; 2014. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05533-6_10

Sirui Liu, Qing Yu, Peter U. Tse, Patrick Cavanagh, Neural Correlates of the Conscious Perception of Visual Location Lie Outside Visual Cortex. Current Biology, 2019; 29 (23). Retrieved from

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