Scientists seek to unravel how brain sees 3D movies

Film-goers watch a 3D movie Credit: PA

Scientists at the University of Essex are hoping to work out how we see 3D movies.

The researchers have been awarded a £369,000 research grant to get a better idea of how the brain transforms the flat 2D image into a 3D one using the special glasses.

The research could help 3D movie-makers and designers of virtual reality systems make their products as “real” as possible.

3D film audiences experience a vivid awareness of three-dimensional objects and people because the special glasses present two slightly different versions of the movie to the left and right eye.

The three-year research project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is to determine how the brain interprets these differences.

Dr Paul Hibbard explained: “We know a 3D understanding is achieved by neurons at the back of the brain responding to the different images from each eye to make a 3D model. What we don’t know, and are trying to understand, is how the neurons are achieving this.”

It could also give a better insight into the binocular image differences that our brains respond to, and how it uses these to determine three-dimensional shape. The research could help the development of artificial computer vision , important for robotic and artificial intelligence systems.