Image of the Week

An Inverted Mystery

  • Published5 Apr 2013
  • Reviewed5 Apr 2013
  • Author Sarah Bates, MS, MA
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN
When inverted, this image of a face isn't recognizable to most people.
Two-tone images give little information.
When inverted, this image of a face isn't recognizable to most people.
When flipped around, the image is instantly recognizable.
Suddenly, a face appears.
When flipped around, the image is instantly recognizable.

Our brains’ recognition of objects depends on their orientation. What do you see in this image?

Our brains have a spectacular ability to recognize faces. Minimal information is required to do so — for example, a nose, a mouth, and two eyes. In the first image above, there isn’t quite enough distinguishing information for most people to see a face. However, when the image is inverted (the second image above), a face appears. This results because our brain is tuned to seeing faces in this orientation.

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BrainFacts/SfN