We Are All Intuitive Physicists, Scientists Say

The location of the ‘physics engine’ in the brain is highlighted in color in this illustration. (Images: Jason Fischer/JHU) Human beings are very good at acting on the fly: swerving to avoid an obstacle in the road, ducking to keep from being hit, or reflexively catching a fly ball. We can do this because the brain is constantly running simulations of the physics involved as we scan our environment, according to a new series of brain imaging studies. All that processing is done by a handful of regions involved in planning actions, which kick into gear whenever we watch physical events unfold around us. The team responsible for the new studies has dubbed it the brain’s “physics engine,” and suggest it could help design more nimble robots. They described their…


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