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Optical illusions – What is a cognitive illusion?

When looking at an optical illusion, your brain can give a perception that differs with the actual measurement of the image or object .There are three different types of optical illusions- literal, physiological, or cognitive. Today, we’ll be looking into the last type.

Cognitive illusions are usually divided into ambiguous illusions, distorting illusions, fiction illusions or paradox illusions:


Ambiguous Figures

Ambiguous figure is an illusion in which the subject or the perspective of a picture or shape may suddenly switch in the mind of the observer to another, equally valid possibility. In a lot of ambiguous figures, the features of a person or animal can suddenly be seen as completely different features of another individual. Here is an example:

Do you see a young woman or an old woman?

(My Wife and My Mother-In-Law, by the cartoonist W.E. Hill, 1915)


Distorting illusions

Distorting illusions are known for their distortions of size, length, or curvature. One of the most well known examples of this type of illusion is the “Café Wall”. This was discovered by Doctor Richard Gregory after he noticed the strange effect on the tiles of the wall of a café  in Bristol. The lines of the below image are parallel however appear to be bent…



Fictional illusions

Have you heard of an Kanizsa triangle before? What this great picture is about is how we perceive certain objects or images created by our minds simply by what is presented to us even though it isn’t physically there. What you see below is an white equilateral triangle that illustrates the mind’s willingness to see a shape despite the fact that there isn’t one present in the image.

Paradox illusions

Paradox illusions are pretty much images that could never actually exist in real life. At first glance they can look somewhat normal however have the ability to make your brain hurt after a few minutes of trying to work out their impossible shape. Our brains are programmed to believe that adjacent edges must be join, hence why images like the one below confuse us so much.





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