Explaining the flashed face distortion effect

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/24/explaining-the-flashed-face-di.html


Well, that was weird! I wondered if it only works with faces or would have a similar effect with sequences of other similarly shaped paired objects. But his explanation seems to imply it’s a very specific face thing.

1 Like

Those guys are alien caricatures anyway.

1 Like

Wow, that’s the strongest I have ever seen that effect.

I wonder if it has anything to do with how well you know the faces. I’ve seen it before with celebrities and I think I knew more of them than the YouTubers.

Or maybe it just had to do with the size of the images on the screen and my distance when I watched the different videos.

Yeah, I wondered if it worked with animals as well.

I think it’s very much a face-only thing. Human brains have a huge amount of hardware devoted to “chunking” parts of the face. There are specialized circuits that light up just for eyes. Or just for eyes looking frowny.

I think those circuits light up to a certain extend for animal faces as well, which is why we project that our cat is looking “confused” or whatever, but I’m guessing that these illusions depend on them all firing very strongly.

Here’s the Thatcher Illusion with a monkey. Doesn’t look too weird to me, in either orientation:

I’m confused why he didn’t introduce another explanation (which I’m not specialized enough to detail but here goes). When you’re staring at the cross, you aren’t really “seeing” a lot of whats outside your attention. You’re brain is filling in a lot of the detail. And If the face happens to be on your blind spot, then you’re actually seeing nothing there. Of course, if your brain is filling in (guessing), its going to be quite error-prone, so the face looks uncanny-valley monstrous.

That motion aftereffect illusion was like taking acid. And I’ve never taken acid.

I agree.

I have.

Does this make anyone else queasy?

I suppose one test would be to see how it affects people with prosopagnosia - ‘face blindness’.

If it is the face-recognition network that is being tricked, then I would expect people with prosopagnosia would be less or un- affected by the illusion.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.