Cognitive Illusions

For this blog post, I decided to go with a meme about cognitive illusions, one of the topics we discussed in class. I chose this specific image because we did not talk much about this one in class, however, it was probably one of the first images I came across in psychology.

In this illusion, depending on how you look at the image, you can see either a young woman or an old lady that looks like a witch, almost. The old lady is a profile view, and the young lady is looking over her shoulder. Where the old lady’s mouth is, the young lady is wearing a choker or necklace. Where the old lady’s eye is, the young lady’s ear is.

Ironically, my sensation and perception class with Professor Mailloux also went over optical illusions and topics including figure/ground perception and rules of segregation (in perception) which are similar to topics we discussed about in cognitive. Segregation rules include: depth, surroundedness, parallelism, convexity (edges that curve outwards tend to create figures), meaningfulness, orientation, and simplicity. Another process involved in recognizing visual objects is perceptual organization. Steps for this involve represent visual edges, represent regions bound by edges, identify regions as “figure” or “ground” (aka segregation), group similar regions, and lastly fill in missing edges and regions. As an example specific to this image, the convexity of the old lady’s nose can imply that she could be the main figure of the image. However, someone seeing the convexity of the young lady’s jawline can infer that the young woman is the main figure of the image. Although these steps and rules are not specifically relevant to this type of image, and mostly applies to patterns of cognitive/optical illusions, I still found it very intriguing and decided to share.


4 thoughts on “Cognitive Illusions

  1. rfetty3

    I find this topic really interesting and i love love loveeee how you connected it to S&P because i am currently taking that class and i see how you used edge detection and grounding to see both the young woman and the old woman.
    When i looked at this picture, it was really hard for me to see the young lady. I had to somewhat use grounding and turn my head and act like the young lady so that i could see her! Whenever i look at this i see the old lady right away but i have to stare at the picture and move my head to see the the young woman.

  2. jesseboles

    When I first looked at this picture it was really hard for me to see the old lady, but when I altered my point of focus I found her. It is crazy how our brain can see multiple things and interpret visuals in diverse ways. Your blog post was relevant and informative! I loved reading it. I wonder if there are some people who, no matter how hard they try can only see one image or another?

  3. Emily Busbee

    I honestly spent about 5 minutes staring at this picture trying to find the old lady in the picture before I gave up and just read your post! Luckily once I read your post and how you described how the ear on the younger lady was the older woman’s eye, it became a lot easier to see. It also became easier to see the older woman when I noticed the younger woman’s bottom half of her faced also resembled a nose.

  4. swong

    This is the first post I have read that was not analyzing an article! It is a nice change. As for the image, I always immediately see the younger woman. I usually see this image in black and white, but it seems frightening in color! The old woman’s eye is just an outline. There is no white or black, so either her eyes are closed, or her eye is missing!

    I wonder if the results of this optical illusion (whether people see a younger or older woman) change when the image is seen in color rather than black and white? I must admit that all of the different steps and rules for us to see still have me slightly confused, but I have always found it amazing how people do not see things the same way, and thus see the world in different ways. My red is not your red, and the young woman to me may be an old woman to you.

    This image reminds me of the picture of a Dalmatian that we looked at in class. It was made out of many different splotches, and I immediately saw the dog. The image did not seem ambiguous to me at all until a few of my friends could not figure out what the image was supposed to show. This is similar to how I was so stuck seeing a young woman, that I could not see an old woman until it was pointed out to me, and now that is what I am seeing as I type about it and glance at the picture!


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