Why do we see faces in things? Evolution, scientists say

New research finds that the brain recognises facial expressions in inanimate objects because humans have evolved as ‘deeply social’ beings, reports Celine Wadhera

Wednesday 07 July 2021 01:16
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<p>A burnt piece of toast, or an image of Jesus – our brains are hardwired to to notice expressions in all kinds of places</p>

A burnt piece of toast, or an image of Jesus – our brains are hardwired to to notice expressions in all kinds of places

Facial recognition happens at lightning speed in the brain, which is what causes it to see faces where there are none.

This phenomenon is known as pareidolia – the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on inanimate objects – and is responsible for people seeing faces in the moon, gnarled wood or even images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on toast.

Researchers from the University of Sydney say this is a common occurrence, and believe that it is even an evolutionary benefit.

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