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Discussion Starter #1
I posted this on another forum, thought it might be useful here:

We talk about target fixation, about how the bike will go where you are looking, about how obstacles seem to become magnets unstoppably drawing you to them. (in the motorcycle and bike video, the camera moves with the head, so the center of the screen is where the rider is looking).

Everyone says the solution is to look where you want to go. If you look at an obstacle, you'll hit it. That's true, but WHY?

In short, humans are predatory animals. We have a million years of evolution designed to catch prey (whether that's catching an insect in your hand, or throwing a spear at a moose). We have a direct connection between our visual cortex and our motor cortex, and an automatic response to intercept what we are looking at. Normally conscious actions override this, but under high stress or when there is no time to consciously think, the direct physical link between eyes and muscles will take over.

You have 10 degrees of central vision, where your focused vision is. Your brain uses peripheral vision to spot potential prey or threats, and your central vision to identify and track things. Your visual and motor cortexes automatically work together, without your conscious thought or intent, to converge with the object you are focused on. That is literally what our visual cortex was made to do, and those who did it better got to eat and reproduce.

Have you ever wondered how often you and another car approaching an intersection seem to arrive at the stop sign at exactly the same time? Or how two cars collide at an intersection in the middle of nowhere, where they could see each other coming for a half mile before the intersection? The reason is that you COULD see each over, and so your brain adjusted your speed to reach the intersection at exactly the same time. That's why people often end up catching up with the car in front and one lane over, then driving the same speed (yes they are stupid, but they aren't doing it intentionally).

Normally, we override many of the body's instinctual actions (not just motorcycles, plenty of other things as well). But when high stress occurs, the body will revert back to its instinctive reactions. This is true in motorcycling, car driving, gunfights, fighting, flying airplanes, etc. The key is to learn how to use your body's evolved systems to get the outcome you want. Work with your instincts, not against them.

In this case, the way we use our lightning fast and millions-of-years-in-development direct connection between your eyes and muscles is to train yourself to look where you want to go.

So now you know why you go where you look.



PS: You can tell the difference between prey and predator animals by looking at their eyes. Prey (cows, antelope, goats) have eyes wide set, often on opposite sides of the head, to give them as wide a field of vision as possible. They have often 360-degree peripheral vision, but no central vision cone, little vision overlap, and usually cannot focus on objects.

Predator animals have eyes forward set, able to focus both eyes on a single object, and able to perceive distance (depth perception) and direction of motion. For an example, look at a prey bird vs a predator bird.
 

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......We have a direct connection between our visual cortex and our motor cortex, and an automatic response to intercept what we are looking at. Normally conscious actions override this, but under high stress or when there is no time to consciously think, the direct physical link between eyes and muscles will take over.
This connection can best be severed with a brain freeze caused by eating a Dairy Queen blizzard.......
 

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Man, do I hate when they come up behind you and then pace you either in your mirror or blocking your escape lane if it’s needed. I’ve tapped my brakes to release cruise and gradually let the bike slow until they move around me and away. OR, I twist that right grip ...SOME... and move myself away. The slowing concept has gotten them an arm waving them around in the past. Good reading and reminder. Thanks for posting.
 

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I submit that there is also another reason at work. It's not the predator instinct, it's fear of being prey and caught out with no escape. Deep in our brains we retain the preservation instinct to keep objects that can harm us in sight. We dare not take our eyes off the saber toothed tiger, the drop-off on the edge of the road, or the car edging over the yellow line and converging head-on toward us.


"Target fixation is a panic reflex. When confronted with a dangerous situation or something unusual suddenly appearing in our field of vision, our natural instinct is to look directly at the object posing the threat and exclude everything else. Unable to look away and even consider an escape route, we tend to go where our eyes take us, often directly into the object. It could be a rider crashing in front of you, a patch of gravel on the road, or a car braking suddenly as you follow directly behind; you can guess how each scenario plays out when target fixation grabs hold." Sport Rider, Andrew Trivett, 2016.


Neuropsychologist and rider Dr. Bernt Spiegel wrote a fascinating book on riding titled "The Upper Half of the Motorcycle". It covers many topics of rider interest including the underlying fears leading to target fixation and how to decouple our eyes from such targets and focus on getting safely on down the road.
 

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WOW! I didn't know there was so much I didn't know. I'll have to come back and read this thread a few more times to comprehend all of the information that has been provided.
Thank you to all contributors.
Unfortunately since I am in Michigan, I'll have to wait a while to go practice.
 

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So reading posts 1 and 5, the question becomes, are humans predators, or prey, or both? Regardless, all prey do not respond the same; they must choose fight, flight, freeze or faint. Prey who freeze or faint do not look at the predator. Then too, some predators do not make eye contact with the prey, lest they scare them off. So, is there a one size fits all answer here?

Perhaps its the same as with most research, "more research is needed". LOL
 

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YA PUT A "HOT " CHICK IN BIKINI ON SIDE OF ROAD AND SEE WHERE YA END UP ! :surprise::smile2: WAS A ARTICLE SOMEWHERE DONE BY PILOTS IN ENGLAND ? I THINK :wink2: THAT SHOWED HOW "WE DONT " SEE THINGS AS WE LOOK RITE AT THEM. = WHY PEOPLE PULL OUT IN FRONT OF YOU AND SAY THEY NEVER SEEN YA. MIND IS A "TRICKY " THING. THANKS FOR POSTING.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
I submit that there is also another reason at work.
...
"Target fixation is a panic reflex. When confronted with a dangerous situation or something unusual suddenly appearing in our field of vision, our natural instinct is to look directly at the object posing the threat and exclude everything else."
You are correct, in that the threat is what draws your eyeballs. I didn't address the issue of WHY your eyes lock on the threat.
But the fact remains that your visual and motor cortexes are connected, and the evolutionary structures that served us well in the savannah or forests does exactly the WRONG thing when we are operating vehicles of any kind (but more especially motorcycles).

The exclusionary reaction, which is not just visual, but auditory and tactile as well, is well known in combat training circles. Specific knowledge of exclusion, followed by training and repetitive practice is required to break exclusion.
In gunfighting, there is a specific countermeasure to break your eyes off the target and turn the head and shoulders to open up your field of vision (to look for additional threats). In pursuit driving, it's consciously and actively looking at the approaching cross streets for traffic, and looking ahead of the vehicle being pursued.

It CAN be done, but it requires:
1 - Knowledge (understanding the issue and what is happening to your brain);
2 - Training (being informed on the countermeasures to be employed);
3 - Practice (repeating the countermeasure at every opportunity), so you reach
4 - Habituation (where your have reprogrammed yourself so that the countermeasure is automatic).
So reading posts 1 and 5, the question becomes, are humans predators, or prey, or both?
Both, like almost every other animal. Even Great White Sharks are occasionally hunted by Orcas.

But we are unquestionably predators (humans don't graze, we hunt, at least we did long enough to evolve the characteristics). For four million years, maintaining the incredible caloric requirements of our brains required concentrated calories (meat), as you can't graze enough calories to sustain a population, especially over winters.
Which is why our visual and motor cortexes are connected in the way they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks friends. I just want us all to enjoy lost more moto years.
25+ years as a cop, traffic homicide investigator, firearms instructor, pilot, and motorcyclist has caused some knowledge from multiple disciplines to come together, and make some connections on why things happen the way they do.

As stated in the post just above this, the first link in effectively building countermeasures is to understand what is happening. Training, practice, and habituation happen much easier if you understand why the countermeasure is needed,and what exactly is the instinctive behavior you are fighting.
Good reading and reminder. Thanks for posting.
I'll have to come back and read this thread a few more times to comprehend all of the information that has been provided.
Thank you to all contributors.
Good thread. Probably the most important thing for any motorcyclist to learn.
 
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It CAN be done, but it requires:
1 - Knowledge (understanding the issue and what is happening to your brain);
2 - Training (being informed on the countermeasures to be employed);
3 - Practice (repeating the countermeasure at every opportunity), so you reach
4 - Habituation (where your have reprogrammed yourself so that the countermeasure is automatic).
Many years ago 1977. I had to take a driving course in Orange County California. This was an Evasive Tactical course for driving VIP in foreign countries. After a solid month of driving this stuff it becomes automatic to your daily driving. I do not do some of the things we were taught (Elusive 60mph reverse with swing around). But I have shown my kids.
And if you have a chance for advance rider classes take them. They are fun and will remind you how to survive with cages all around you.
 
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You are correct, in that the threat is what draws your eyeballs. I didn't address the issue of WHY your eyes lock on the threat.
But the fact remains that your visual and motor cortexes are connected, and the evolutionary structures that served us well in the savannah or forests does exactly the WRONG thing when we are operating vehicles of any kind (but more especially motorcycles).

The exclusionary reaction, which is not just visual, but auditory and tactile as well, is well known in combat training circles. Specific knowledge of exclusion, followed by training and repetitive practice is required to break exclusion.
In gunfighting, there is a specific countermeasure to break your eyes off the target and turn the head and shoulders to open up your field of vision (to look for additional threats). In pursuit driving, it's consciously and actively looking at the approaching cross streets for traffic, and looking ahead of the vehicle being pursued.

It CAN be done, but it requires:
1 - Knowledge (understanding the issue and what is happening to your brain);
2 - Training (being informed on the countermeasures to be employed);
3 - Practice (repeating the countermeasure at every opportunity), so you reach
4 - Habituation (where your have reprogrammed yourself so that the countermeasure is automatic).

Both, like almost every other animal. Even Great White Sharks are occasionally hunted by Orcas.

But we are unquestionably predators (humans don't graze, we hunt, at least we did long enough to evolve the characteristics). For four million years, maintaining the incredible caloric requirements of our brains required concentrated calories (meat), as you can't graze enough calories to sustain a population, especially over winters.
Which is why our visual and motor cortexes are connected in the way they are.
I accept, 100 percent, the principle, "look where you want to go", and have been practicing it since I heard about it, tried it, and discovered it works. I also accept, "lean over and kiss the mirror" on the turn side, for same reasons; accept that my 1970 Seiko will provide correct time when I look at it; accept exclusionary reaction, learning theory's laws of timing and repetition, etcetera. My point, I usually choose the KISS principle and often its as simple as, "monkey see-monkey do". I don't need to know how to build a watch, in order to use my Seiko, nor need to understand (debatable) evolution in order to look where I wanna go; just keep doing it, and results reinforce reliability. Not sure there is a one size fits all to human behavior anyway. I kick boxed till 40 years old, and learned to gaze at the opponent's chest, and use peripheral for most other. Similarly, my peripheral will hopefully pick up on the huge pot hole 10 feet away, while looking where I wanna go 100 feet away. So it seems I should look where I wanna go, but not fixate on that either.

As for evolution: I submit humans were opportunists and used their intelligence to adapt to changing environment, which was often seasonal/situational; when fruits, berries, and other edibles were available, they ate them; when animals were available, they ate them. Time sometimes afforded opportunity for thinking, but not always: self talk, upon hearing the sabertooth's growl, "holly crap, that's the thing that killed and ate uncle Fred last week! Maybe I better run like never before... or maybe I can kill and eat it..." But if the tiger did not growl, and only pounced, no time to think-just react. Those who thought and/or reacted appropriately in each situation, lived another day.

I never stop learning, and will continue to practice the riding skills I am learning, but only need to have confidence that it works. If I try something and determine it doesn't work for me, no amount of theoretical explanation is gonna convince me to keep practicing it. OTOH, if it works, no theoretical explanation is necessary.
 
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PilotAlan may be correct, but might we be over thinking this?
Could it be that where our focus is, is the direction we head, whether it’s on a bike or just generally in life?

I posted this on another forum, thought it might be useful here:



We talk about target fixation, about how the bike will go where you are looking, about how obstacles seem to become magnets unstoppably drawing you to them. (in the motorcycle and bike video, the camera moves with the head, so the center of the screen is where the rider is looking).



Everyone says the solution is to look where you want to go. If you look at an obstacle, you'll hit it. That's true, but WHY?



In short, humans are predatory animals. We have a million years of evolution designed to catch prey (whether that's catching an insect in your hand, or throwing a spear at a moose). We have a direct connection between our visual cortex and our motor cortex, and an automatic response to intercept what we are looking at. Normally conscious actions override this, but under high stress or when there is no time to consciously think, the direct physical link between eyes and muscles will take over.



You have 10 degrees of central vision, where your focused vision is. Your brain uses peripheral vision to spot potential prey or threats, and your central vision to identify and track things. Your visual and motor cortexes automatically work together, without your conscious thought or intent, to converge with the object you are focused on. That is literally what our visual cortex was made to do, and those who did it better got to eat and reproduce.



Have you ever wondered how often you and another car approaching an intersection seem to arrive at the stop sign at exactly the same time? Or how two cars collide at an intersection in the middle of nowhere, where they could see each other coming for a half mile before the intersection? The reason is that you COULD see each over, and so your brain adjusted your speed to reach the intersection at exactly the same time. That's why people often end up catching up with the car in front and one lane over, then driving the same speed (yes they are stupid, but they aren't doing it intentionally).



Normally, we override many of the body's instinctual actions (not just motorcycles, plenty of other things as well). But when high stress occurs, the body will revert back to its instinctive reactions. This is true in motorcycling, car driving, gunfights, fighting, flying airplanes, etc. The key is to learn how to use your body's evolved systems to get the outcome you want. Work with your instincts, not against them.



In this case, the way we use our lightning fast and millions-of-years-in-development direct connection between your eyes and muscles is to train yourself to look where you want to go.



So now you know why you go where you look.







PS: You can tell the difference between prey and predator animals by looking at their eyes. Prey (cows, antelope, goats) have eyes wide set, often on opposite sides of the head, to give them as wide a field of vision as possible. They have often 360-degree peripheral vision, but no central vision cone, little vision overlap, and usually cannot focus on objects.



Predator animals have eyes forward set, able to focus both eyes on a single object, and able to perceive distance (depth perception) and direction of motion. For an example, look at a prey bird vs a predator bird.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

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WOW! I didn't know there was so much I didn't know. I'll have to come back and read this thread a few more times to comprehend all of the information that has been provided.
Thank you to all contributors.
Unfortunately since I am in Michigan, I'll have to wait a while to go practice.
Just on your m/c. You can and should, apply the same principles to your automobile. It is not something you switch on when you straddle your bike, and off when you dismount. These principles will help you stay out of accidents, or at least hit the softest thing around.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
PilotAlan may be correct, but might we be over thinking this?
For some, yes. For others, no.
My experience is that most (not all) people are better able to internalize, practice, and habituate to counterinstinctual actions when they have a firm grasp on what the issue is and why the countermeasure is needed.


That's why I wrote this. For those who need an understanding of why in order to better implement the reaction and make it automatic. I am certainly one of those who better internalizes things when I know the why.
 

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"Automatic" is the keyword.
When is need to react fast, there's no time to think about what to do and why. Just do. Animal instincts is what human still have in common with animals. They just hidden behind the human's "thinking ability mechanism". In situations when is no time to think - instincts are your fiends. Unlike "thinking", instincts never wrong.
 

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I was taught anything the eyes rest on for more than 2 seconds is a "fixation".
You are loosing peripheral vision & becoming "fixed" on your central vision/target/quarry/P.O.I./etc...
The eyes must always be moving:wink2:
 

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