Monday, January 07, 2008


[9] Peisaj

‘Autokinesis’ is a special visual hazard of night flying. When you look constantly at a small point in a dark night, you feel as if the light is moving, after a while. Otherwise, you may feel as if yourself is moving.

‘Autokinesis’ is only one of the discrepancies that we carry everyday without ever being aware of. Our discrepancies may appear not only at the edges of our abilities, such as night vision, but also in our routine daily activities. The sooner we get aware of them, the better the quality and fulfillment of our lives.

Unfortunately, we are created not to improve our abilities but primarily, to survive with them.
In any form of life comes improvement after survival. Our bodies, namely the embodiment of ourselves [1] is designed so that even if we loss some part of us we should survive.

Even if we lose an arm, after feeling the immediate shock, we should be able to continue our lives, together with a prosthetic device, and even feel as if we still have the lost arm in our minds as in some cases[2]…

I believe, a mental, behavioural discrepancy can and may become a part of ourselves, and our mental embodiment similar to a prosthestic device… A discrepancy may become part of our ‘subjective’ mental body till something happens and brings our attention to it, thus this discrepancy becomes our ‘objective’ mental body.

The problem is that, the transition from the subjective mental body to the objective one may cause pain and also damage the complex relations of choices a person has made to build his/her personality.

cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor refers to the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain in terms of another, for example, understanding quantity in terms of directionality (e.g. "prices are rising"). “ [4] Using metaphors in psychological training of air traffic controllers, engineers and other aviation personnel, could be an effective pedagogical approach. Rather than doing not much while waiting for who is going to fall down…

If we return back to the night vision; ‘night flying requires a different visual technique than day flying’ [5]. In daylight you have to look directly at the target object. At night, you have to look at slightly one side of the target object. Scanning the target by moving your eye permits “off-center” viewing. You should not look directly at the target object at night unless there is a special reason.

‘The explanation for this lies in the DUAL STRUCTURE OF OUR EYE’[5]. The cones work in day light and the rods at night. The rods are located on the periphary of a circle around the cones.

The cones need a greater intensity of light to function, and stop working in semidarkness.
The rods can function in 1 / 5000 th of light intensity. The rods are 100000 times sensitive in dark as they are in light. So, they work at night.

The problem is; what do the rods do in the day light? The rods provide a grey scale view, while cones provide coloured… Rods lose their sensitivity after short exposure to light. This means less sensitivity is used only for percieving objects in the peripheral view…

My point is, the night vision metaphor may be used for teaching Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) awareness for aviators. OCD is a common problem among people working with risk.
It may be just a behavioural nuisance that can not be noticed or an increasing mental risk towards more serious situations. You have to be aware of what the people around you are doing, in order to warn them and not get affected by them.

Henry Szechtman and Erik Woody ‘s article “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a Disturbance of Security Motivation” describes OCD as:
“We hypothesize that the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), despite their apparent non-rationality, have what might be termed an “epistemic” origin – that is, they stem from an inability to generate the normal “feeling of knowing” that would otherwise signal task completion and terminate the expression of a security motivational system.[7]”

Similar to the Night Vision mechanism of the eye, Security Motivation System is ‘hardwired’. It is highly tuned to certain kinds of input like the cones and rods working on different light intensities.
Probably much more complex than eye’s night vision mechanism, is the Security Motivation System also “automatic and autonomous, and “encapsulated,” or relatively isolated from information developed by other systems.”

The Night Vision metaphor provides a good example for teaching:
1. There are seperate resources in our mind and brain for different tasks.
2. There has to be an activation and stopping mechanism (homeostatic) for any resource.
3. There may be a switching mechanism which manages the processes related to different and competing tasks.

Moods, emotions, thinking speed in different situations may effect the switching mechanism and activation – deactivation mechanism of our minds and brains[8]. Selecting the right mood and time frame helps the team make the right decisions with the right mental resources.

Ali Riza SARAL

[1] “Phenomenological theorists distinguish between the subjective body(as lived and experienced) and the objective body (as observed and scientifically investigated). My lived body is an EMBODIED CONSCIOUSNESS which fluidly and pre-reflectively engages the world. As we engage in our daily activities, we tend not to be conscious of our bodies and we take them granted – body that is passed-by-in-silence (Jean-Paul SARTRE, 1943, Being and Nothingness)”.

[2] “Prothestic devices stretch the boundaries of the body. They create a continuity beyond the limits of the skin”(Carolien HERMANS, 2002, Embodiment: the flesh and bones of my body). “A body schema works on a subconscious level. It registers shape and posture of the body(without coming to awareness). It makes a record of the momentary relative disposition of one’s own body parts”. “Prothestic devices can be absorbed in the body schema. Just as a hammer in the carpenter’s hand is incorporated into his body schema, any virtual body part or interface(keyboard, mouse, joystick) can become part of the schema in a temporary or longlasting way…”

[3] For further reading: Embodiment and Man-Machine Interaction

[4] Wikipedia,
[5] “Night flying requires a different visual technique than day flying. You can see an object best during daylight by looking directly at it. At night, however, a scanning procedure is more effective - to permit "off center" viewing of the target. In other the words, you will find after some practice that you can see things more clearly and definitely at night by looking slightly to one side of them, rather than straight at them.
The explanation for this lies in the dual structure of your eye. There are two kinds of light-sensitive nerve endings at the back of your eye: (1) the cones, which distinguish colour and require considerable light to function, and (2) the rods, which detect objects only in shades of grey but can operate in very dim light.
The cones, because they need greater intensity of light to function, are used in day vision. In fact, the cones stop working altogether in semi darkness. Millions of these tiny structures are clustered at the back of the eyeball, directly behind the pupil. Not only do they distinguish colours, they pick up distant objects.
The rods are concentrated in a ring around the cones. Being colour-blind, they see only in greys and are used in peripheral vision during the day - that is, to perceive objects in motion out of the corner of the eye. Because the rods can still function in light of 1/5,000 the intensity at which the cones cease to function, they are used for night vision. These structures are 100,000 times as sensitive in the dark as they are in sunlight. However, they do need more time to adjust to darkness than the cones do to bright light. Your eyes become adapted to sunlight in 10 seconds, whereas they need 30 minutes to fully adjust to a dark night.
The fact that the rods are distributed in a band around the cones, and, therefore, do not lie directly behind the pupils, makes "off centre" viewing important to the pilot during night flight. If, in your attempts to practice the scanning procedures mentioned previously, you find that your eyes have a tendency to swing directly toward the target, force them to swing just past it so that the rods on the opposite side of the eyeball pick up the object.
Rods lose their sensitivity after short exposure to a light source, but regain it quickly after a moment of "rest." Consequently, a prolonged blink may be enough to renew the effectiveness of your vision if you are simply using the "off centre" technique, without scanning. Remember, too, that rods do not perceive objects while your eyes are in motion, only during the pauses.”
Helicopter Flight,

[6] Ali Riza SARAL,

[7] “The psychological experience of compulsion is not well defined (Reed, 1985, p. 119), but nevertheless one can conceive of two broad mechanisms that would produce the intrusiveness and urgency characteristic of OCD symptoms. One is a pathological intensity of excitation of the particular thoughts, ideas or actions. The other is a relative failure of the systems that normally terminate such thoughts, ideas or actions.”

“Security Motivation System - … Such modular systems are innately specified and hardwired, highly tuned to certain kinds of input, comparatively automatic and autonomous, and “encapsulated,” or relatively isolated from information developed by other systems.“

“2. The system is readily activated, responding to even a slight chance of danger, and once activated, it has a long half-life, being slow to deactivate despite changes in the environment that feed into the appraisal process (Curio, 1993; Marks & Nesse, 1994; Masterson & Crawford, 1982). This easy-to-turn-on, hard-to-turn-off quality makes sense evolutionarily, because repeated false alarms are much less costly than even a single failure to prepare for upcoming danger.”

“Similarly, we hypothesize that an internally generated feeling of knowing provides not only a
phenomenological sign of goal-attainment but is also the physiological mechanism that actually
shuts-down security motivation.”

“An internally generated “feeling of knowing” (termed “yedasentience”) provides a phenomenological sign of goal-attainment and has as its consequence the termination of thoughts, ideas or actions motivated by concerns of harm to self or others. Failure to generate or experience this feeling produces symptoms characteristic of OCD.”

“Instead, according to the present model, the underlying problem is lack of closure -- the inability to turn off security motivation, which drives security-related thoughts, through the normal route of performing specific security-related behaviors.”

Henry Szechtman, McMaster University, Erik Woody, University of Waterloo, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a Disturbance of Security Motivation,

[8] “The mechanics of the thinking process is affected by our emotions. Switching from one context to another, the rate of changing subjects, the amount of concentration, the depth of thinking through different abstraction levels, getting obsessed to solve the problem, thinking speed are dramatically affected by the affective situation we are in while thinking… “The various glands of the endocrine system release hormones into the bloodstream that have effects on specific sites in the brain, including those involved in emotion” says Cornelius [5] . A careful observer can notice that there are different working speeds of thinking in our brains. Our brains work in a slow mode when we are doing something related with safety or security(but not related to emergency) where as our ideas fly when we are doing something sentimental or dreaming… Thinking speed helps us to switch from one processor to another in our multiprocessor brain. Feelings and selecting the right mood help us to choose the right processor (or combination of processors) to do the ‘thinking’.”

Ali Riza SARAL, “Do Computers Feel?”,
[9] Gavrus BOGDAN, Peisaj,