Pareidolia, seeing faces and figures where none exist

The world is a complex place, Untamed, and exists independently of our ability to recognize it. Landscapes stack on top of each other, overlap (or do not overlap) and pile up in mountain ranges, fjords and rainforests. The wind constantly shifts the web of clouds that cover the sky, and beneath them pass their own shadows, trying to prevent them from sliding over the irregular topography of the globe.

Every four hours the light comes and goes and everything that has the property of reflecting it changes completely in appearance. Even on a smaller scale, our chances of knowing directly through our senses do not improve.

Do you know what a “pareidolia” is?

Animal life, endowed with autonomous movement, is characterized by infinite changes of place, shape and appearance over a generation, and changes of light frequencies, combined with the continuous change of place and position of our body, make it the raw data of everything we perceive is chaos impossible to understand.

Pareidolia as a way to find meanings

Fortunately, our brains are equipped with certain mechanisms to recognize patterns and continuities in the midst of all this sensory mess. Neural networks are the perfect way to create systems that are always activated in the same way in the face of seemingly different stimuli. Therefore, that we can recognize people close to us despite their physical and psychological changes. Hence also that we can apply similar strategies in different contexts, apply what we have learned to different situations and even recognize plagiarism in a piece of music. However, this ability also has a very striking side effect called pareidolia.

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon consisting of the recognition of significant patterns (such as faces) in ambiguous and random stimuli. Take a look at this duck, for example:

Once you realize that its beak looks like the cartoonish head of a dog, you will never be able to stop having this effect every time you see a duck like this. But not all paridolics are as low-key as this one. Evolution, we have developed neural networks in charge of process relevant stimuliSo, some patterns become much more obvious to us than others.

In fact, at some point in our evolution, the visual system with which we are equipped has become incredibly sensitive to these stimuli reminiscent of human faces, A part of the body that is of great importance for non-verbal communication. Later, at some point in our history, we became able to craft countless objects following simple, recognizable, and regular patterns. And at that point the party started:

Spindle rotation: our face radar

Our brains are equipped with specific circuits that are activated to process visual information about faces differently from other data, and the part of the brain that contains these circuits is also responsible for the phenomenon of pareidolia.

This structure is called spindle-shaped circumference, And in a few hundredths of a second, it makes us see faces where there are, but also where there are not. Moreover, when this second possibility passes, we cannot help but have the strong feeling of contemplating someone, even if that person is in fact a faucet, a rock or a facade. This is the subconscious power of the fusiform bend: whether we like it or not, it will be activated whenever we see something vaguely reminiscent of a face. This is the counterpart of having designed a brain that is ready to deal with many changing and unpredictable stimuli.

So, even if because of these paridolics we sometimes feel looked at …

… and although sometimes we notice that we have lost a joke …

One of the many magnitudes of the human brain

… it is good to remember that these phenomena have their reason for being in the special treatment that our brain does without patterns that can be read in the back and forth of confusing images. Our brains make us wise, but nature makes our brains useful. From today, when your brain detects a face here where there is only one object, you will also remember this article.

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