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Study: the human eye really can’t see more than 35 fps

The myth that the human eye cannot distinguish more than 30 frames per second was once taken seriously but is now entrenched in the public consciousness as a joke. However, scientists have proven that some people really are not able to perceive high frame rates.

The study was conducted by scientists from Trinity College Dublin. The experiment was simple: a group of 88 people were asked to observe a flickering light source through special glasses under various conditions and report when the flickering appeared to stop. In reality, it did not stop but simply switched to a higher frequency. This allowed the researchers to determine the maximum perception of the human eye.


Interestingly, some volunteers stopped seeing flicker at a frequency of 35 Hz, but they were in the minority. The vast majority of participants in the experiment experienced flicker perception between 40 and 50 Hz, with only a few able to perceive frequencies above 60 Hz – a phenomenon that highlights the significance of 144 Hz monitors! The researchers reached a fairly obvious but scientifically proven conclusion: the ability to perceive flicker (and high frame rates) varies individually among people and may even change over time. Moreover, it appears to change more significantly in women than in men.

“We don’t yet know how this might affect our daily lives, but we believe that individual differences in perceptual speed may become apparent in high-speed situations where fast-moving objects need to be detected or tracked. For example, in ball sports or in situations where visual scenes change rapidly, such as in competitive games,” said study co-author and PhD candidate Clinton Harlem from Trinity College Dublin.

In a follow-up study, the team aims to determine whether temporal resolution actually affects a person’s athletic performance or gaming skills.


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