Sunday, August 14, 2022

Ambiguous Images

Take a look at this picture. What do you see? When you look at it again, do you see something else?

Image courtesy Steve Stuart Williams and Tim Urban

Most people see a man, off balance, running into a snowy forest. Then after looking again, they see a dog running toward us. Some people see the dog first and have a hard time seeing the human.

What's going on is that there are two opposite streams of information processing going on in your brain. One stream is like a camera. Light enters your eye and resolves into shapes and patterns that move to the back of the brain and up through the cerebral cortex to higher level processing. 

But while this is going on, the brain is constantly generating theories of what it's seeing and delivering those theories down the pipeline, optimizing what you're actually seeing to fit its dominant conception.

All along you're reality-checking the top-down theory against the information coming up the pipeline from the eyes.

If the first top-down reading doesn't continue to fit the bottom-up facts, you start generating new interpretations.

A similar process happens with auditory processing when you hear a gunshot...or was that a firecracker?...or was someone popping a paper bag? You can feel your adrenaline surge when you think it's a gunshot, and all that changes when you realize it isn't.


Elissa said...

Wow it’s crazy. I had to zoom in because something didn’t feel right even though my eyes were try to tell me it was a man walking into the snowy forest. Super cool
Question: do you teach? I live in New York and I thought why not askšŸ¤·‍♀️ I would love to learn from you about color theory and all the terms I presently struggle with.
I have recently fallen in love with art about 4years ago and for me the journey has been hard but so fulfilling but I feel like I’m missing something (a real teacher) I made a YouTube channel and that has actually helped me more than I thought it would. Editing my videos show me errors that I make it also has shown me to take a steps back and observe. Sorry for the essay but in my older age I have learned it really doesn’t hurt to ask. The worse thing that could happen is that you say no, but at least I know I tried.
Thank you for the brain teaser and taking the time to read this post.
(Creative Phenomenon Art)is the name of my channel (incase you were wondering)

David King said...

At first I thought it was a man with some kind of animal printed on the back of his jacket. It took a few seconds but when I focused I could see it was actually dog.

Mary de Gardner said...

Saw the running man first, the snowman "path" second, the dog third. If you look at the path, you can discern a cartoon-y face with two eyes, an open smiling mouth, and a hand
resting on a cheek. The man is running right up the face/the dog is running right down the face.