Smaller animals tend to perceive time in slow-motion, helping them to escape from larger predators, a study finds. This means that they can observe movement on a finer timescale than bigger creatures, allowing them to escape from lager predators.
Insects and small birds, for example, can see more information in one second than a larger animal such as an elephant. In humans, too, there is variation among individuals. Athletes, for example, can often process visual information more quickly. An experienced goalkeeper would therefore be quicker than others in observing where a ball comes from. The speed at which humans absorb visual information is also age-related. Younger people can react more quickly than older people, and this ability falls off further with increasing age.
From a human perspective, our ability to process visual information limits our ability to drive cars or fly planes any faster than we currently do in Formula 1, where these guys are pushing the limits of what is humanly possible. To go any quicker would require either computer assistance, or enhancement of our visual system, either through drugs or ultimately implants.
Some deep-sea isopods (a type of marine woodlouse) have the slowest recorded reaction of all, and can only see a light turning off and on four times per second "before they get confused and see it as being constantly on.
Having eyes that send updates to the brain at much higher frequencies than our eyes do is of no value if the brain cannot process that information equally quickly. Hence, this work highlights the impressive capabilities of even the smallest animal brains. Flies might not be deep thinkers but they can make good decisions very quickly.