Does this backpack smile at you? Scientists discover why we see faces in everyday objects | News from science and technology


Humans seem hardwired to see faces in everyday objects like clouds, moon, and tree trunks – some have even seen an imaginary Jesus in cheese on toast.

But until now, scientists haven’t fully understood why this is and what the brain does when it interprets visual signals as human-like faces.

However, researchers have found evidence suggesting that it is related to the same cognitive processes that the brain uses to identify and analyze real human faces.

Professor David Alais, lead author of the study from the University of Sydney School of Psychology, said: “From an evolutionary point of view, the advantage of not missing a face seems to far outweigh errors when inanimate objects are viewed as faces.

“There is a great advantage in recognizing faces quickly, but the system plays ‘fast and easy’ by applying a rough template of two eyes over the nose and mouth.

“Many things can fulfill this template and thus trigger a face recognition reaction.”

Researchers say that this facial recognition in the brain happens at lightning speed – within a few hundred milliseconds.

Prof. Alais said: “We know that these objects are not real faces, but the perception of a face remains. We end up with something strange – a parallel experience that it is both a compelling face and an object.

This mistake is known as facial spareidolia and is so common that people accept the idea of ​​recognizing faces in objects as normal.

Where are you looking?

Man not only imagines faces, but also gives them emotional attributes.

Experts say this happens because, as a deeply social being, simply recognizing a face is not enough.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, once a fake face is recognized by the brain, it is analyzed for its facial expression in the same way as a real face.

“We have to read the face’s identity and recognize its expression. Are you a friend or an enemy? Are you happy, sad, angry, in pain? ”Explained Prof. Alais.

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