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There is an annual attraction in Gloucestershire, England, including various features and interrelating illuminations. One of the features presented includes a man gazing at an illuminated face presented on a tree.  This feature is one of the best-known examples of face pareidolia.

Face pareidolia is a form of illusion, where our brain interprets a pattern or any item as a human face. Scientists have looked into this phenomenon several times over the years. Jessica Taubert, a psychology expert, has more insight into the topic. Taubert recently reported a connection between the illusion and the social cues we experience daily.

The study highlighted perceptions on gender

In a recent study, Taubert looked into the factors contributing to pareidolia. Her goal during the study was to find out which social signals determined the faces people saw in inanimate objects. For this reason, Taubert and her team looked into the characteristics of the faces people saw. These included biological sex and expression.

The study results highlighted people’s perceptions of gender. Researchers found that most of the figures had the faces of men rather than women. They found this phenomenon strange as illusory faces do not have a gender. Moreover, they came with minimal details that made it hard to determine whether it was male or female.

Researchers try to identify the part of the brain that causes pareidolia

The study focused on at least 3,800 respondents who researchers presented several inanimate items to investigate whether the figures possess emotional expressions.

The illusion gets refined in areas of the brain that can identify faces.  Taubert further explained that several theories presented revealed that pareidolia deceives the brain; thus, assisting in determining which part of the brain contributes to the illusion.

The research team also reiterated a gap for other studies to be conducted in the same field, thus identifying the specific stimuli utilized by the brain. Other previous studies revealed that the illusion results from brain perceptions that assist our brain in identifying the type of facial image or restoring images.

Studies on pareidolia could help people with cognitive disorders to improve their facial recognition abilities.