3 Answers

  1. I've heard it's an evolutionary thing. Even babies who are only a few months old pay more attention to their faces (look at their face longer, even if it's a schematic drawing) than other things. Human survival has always depended on other people — both relatives and enemies. Relatively speaking, the faster you can see a person in the bushes (and understand whether it is a friend or an enemy), the better your chances of survival.

    We no longer need it to survive, but it is deeply embedded in our brains. Hence the funny stuff like Jesus or Marilyn Monroe on toast.

  2. This phenomenon is called apophenia.

    While there is no definitive conclusion about the causes of its occurrence, there are several assumptions that can be generalized to the following idea: our memory stores images with which the observed phenomenon is compared and the picture is completed.

    The reasons, of course, are interpreted in the simplest and most understandable way, through the idea of the evolutionary significance of rapid identification of objects and their distribution into categories of “dangerous/not dangerous”.

    It is also interesting how it works at the level of the brain and whether there is any pattern.

    Apophenia is based on such a mental process as” recognition”. The brain structures involved in this process depend on the modality (perceiving sensory system) of the perceived information.

    I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that apophenia occurs not only with visual stimuli, but also, at least, with auditory ones (for example, from Wikipedia: “the album of the British band Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon and the movie “The Wizard of Oz” completely coincide and become a single work of art if you turn on the music immediately after the lion roars for the third time from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie screen saver”).

    In other words, it has not yet been possible to link apophenia to the work of any part of the brain, and the most logical explanation for this phenomenon, as indicated above, is evolutionary.

  3. Since the topic is more related to psychology, the experts who answered below are more likely to be right. From myself, I can only add that for artists, an incredibly important contribution to the field of image perception was made by the so – called gestaltists-developers and adherents of gestalt psychology. It was they who, at the beginning of the last century, collected colossal empirical material, which they may not have accurately interpreted, but made it clear that our psyche contains, based on experience, entire clusters of perception, behavior, and anticipation, i.e., the building blocks of the psyche. This practical material was summarized, analyzed, and given practical recommendations for artists by Rudolf Arnheim in his book “Art and Visual Perception”. I would look for the answer there. Judging by his conclusions, our brain can finish drawing visual information to life examples that are understandable to it, adjust to familiar images, what does not fit into its “database”.

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