Category Archives: Seeing

Your face in every flower

Billie Holiday sings about the phenomenon of seeing meaningful patterns in vague or non-connected visual information in her well-known track The Very Thought of You Scientifically, these effects are known as pareidolia or apophenia. However, the song notes that the perceptual biases are induced by love and, of course, ‘The Very Thought of You’. I […]

Inner visions of seven dimensional space

I’ve just found an amazing 2002 article [pdf] from the American Mathematical Society about blind mathematicians. I was surprised to learn that the majority work in geometry, supposedly the most ‘visual’ discipline, and fascinated to learn that they generally believe the experience of sight puts people at a disadvantage because it locks us into a […]

In search of invisible violence

NPR Radio covers an amazing inattentional blindness experiment that investigated how easy it is to miss a vicious beating in the street – after a policemen was convicted of ignoring an attack during a pursuit. Inattentional blindness is the phenomenon where we don’t notice something seemingly obvious because we are paying attention to some other […]

About face

An amazing picture from Jeff Arris that plays havoc with our face perception system – grabbed from Twitter and which lives on Flickr here. If anyone knows the attribution for the piece do let me know. Thanks to commenter gsggs for finding the attribution.

Alice through the crooked glass

Not Exactly Rocket Science covers a fascinating study where participants felt they were the size of a doll or had expanded to giant proportions simply by using a headset, a camera and a bit of foot stroking. In a typical experiment, a volunteer is being stroked while wearing a virtual reality headset. She’s lyng down […]

Hearing the voices of colours

A spectacular case of psychosis, rather oddly described as ‘Methamphetamine Induced Synesthesia’, in a case report just published in The American Journal on Addictions. The report concerns a 30-year-old gentleman from the Iranian city of Shiraz with a long-standing history of drug use who recently started smoking crystal: Six months PTA [prior to admission] (October […]

Poetic sensitivities

Perceptual psychologists have long been interested in limen – the threshold at which a stimulus becomes detectable. The following limen for the different senses, expressed in everyday terms rather than in terms of physical quantities, have a certain poetry to them. I got this information via email as a scan of an (unknown to me) […]

A misperceptive critic

It’s not often that hallucinations indulge in media criticism, but this case of Charles Bonnet syndrome recently published in the journal Optometry is a delightful exception. Everyone, it seems, is a critic, including perceptual distortions generated by, in this case, macular degeneration. A 79-year-old man presented to the clinic with intermittent hallucinations of 6 months’ […]

An illusory tribute

Richard Gregory was a much loved and hugely influential perceptual psychologist who passed away earlier this year. Tom just alerted me to a wonderfully appropriate visual palindrome on his page of remembrance where his name reads perfectly well when either the ‘right way up’ on when ‘turned on its head’. If you can’t see it […]

The vision thing

The ever-interesting Oliver Sacks is interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air where he discusses cases from his new book on the extremes of visual perception. If you’re a fan of Sacks’ work, like me, this programme is an absolute treat as the conversation ranges from the science of misrecognition to his own quite recent experiences of […]

Sensory blending

The BBC’s science series Horizon just broadcast a fantastic edition on perception, illusions and how the senses combine with each other to the point of allowing us to integrate artificial new senses. If you’ve got a healthy interest in psychology, the first half of the programme discusses several important but well-known effects like the rubber […]

The ’68 comeback perceptual

Elvis makes a fleeting comeback, accompanied by a milk drinking chimp and some well-dressed mice, in the hallucinations of a patient with Parkinson’s disease who is described in a case study published in the Southern Medical Journal. He had compulsive gambling behavior and multiple hallucinations (visual and auditory). Visual hallucinations were simple (shapes of shadows, […]

Visual science in the art of Chuck Close

I’ve just found this amazing article on the work of artist Chuck Close from a 2008 edition of the Archives of Ophthalmology. It examines the visual science behind his pixelated style and how a stroke left the artist paralysed – after which he has produced some of his finest work. Chuck Close (1940- ) is […]

The strange-face-in-the-mirror illusion

An intriguing article has just been published in the journal Perception about a never-before-described visual illusion where your own reflection in the mirror seems to become distorted and shifts identity. To trigger the illusion you need to stare at your own reflection in a dimly lit room. The author, Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo, describes his […]

An Opthamologist on Mars

Oliver Sacks is interviewed on NeuroTribes where he talks about his forthcoming book and his own experience of spectacular hallucinations that occurred after he developed a tumour behind his retina. NeuroTribes is a new blog by ace science writer and Wired veteran Steve Silberman. It is part of the new PLoS science blog network and […]

Distractingly attractive

Driver distractions are a major cause of road accidents. A new study has found that just a simple conversation with someone else in the car can be enough to increase driver errors and that the risk is greater if we fancy the passenger. The research was conducted in a driving simulator by Cale Whitea and […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,584 other followers