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3. Attention: Hacks 34–43 > 34. Detail and the Limits of Attention

Detail and the Limits of Attention

Focusing on detail is limited by both the construction of the eye and the attention systems of the brain.

What’s the finest detail you can see? If you’re looking at a computer screen from about 3 meters away, 2 pixels have to be separated by about a millimeter or more for them not to blur into one. That’s the highest your eye’s resolution goes.

But making out detail in real life isn’t just a matter of discerning the difference between 1 and 2 pixels. It’s a matter of being able to focus on fine-grain detail among enormously crowded patterns, and that’s more to do with the limits of the brain’s visual processing than what the eye can do. What you’re able to see and what you’re able to look at aren’t the same.


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