We’ve all seen mind illusions plastered over the internet, filling in hours of boredom during that mid-afternoon lull at work.
These illusions below are not only cool ways to make the working day go faster but they also reveal subconscious and automatic processes which our brain does in order for our surrounding world to seem coherent and logical.
Watch the above video and you’ll experience the weird sensation of seeing the hollow side of the mask turning into a face. Turns out, these illusions are not just cool but reveal  subconscious processes, churning away in the background of our minds, making sure our experience of the world is as smooth as possible. This image is a vector illustration and can be scaled to any size without loss of resolution. However, as you move backwards away from your computer screen (you may have to walk back quite a lot, I nearly had to leave the room in order to get this illusion to work!) you will see that the faces switch.
Our brain always distinguishes between the main object of our vision (the figure) and the surrounding background.
This illusion is a bit of a creepy one, sit yourself in a dark room with a mirror in front of you (make sure there is enough light so you can still see your face) and stare at yourself for about 10 minutes. Our reflection is crucial to our sense of self and studying this illusion may reveal the mechanisms of our own identity and the feeling of dissociation that schizophrenics and PTSD patients endure (read about a disorder caused by a lack of self-identity here).
Many theorists believe this is because humans have a specialised ability to recognise faces.

So, the above illusion works due to whether you see the black faces or the white vase as the main figure. First, you will notice small changes, a twinge of the lips or a slight movement of your eyes then suddenly new faces may appear, changing and transforming your own face. It has even been used for therapy; many schizophrenics find it useful conjuring up the face of an internalised voice in order to confront it.
We are automatically tuned to identify and recognise faces in our surrounding world, we even have a special brain area completely dedicated to this (if you’re interested, its call the fusiform gyrus).
Both of these interpretations are held simultaneously in our minds, we switch from on to the other and so we see both. People have reported seeing ghostly figures, such as old men or Native Indians and some have even reported animals and monsters pay a visit. This illusion was only discovered 4 years ago but has advanced quickly; it also occurs when people are wearing a mask (the mask comes alive, smiling back at you) and when staring at another person for prolonged periods in the dark. Well, when we look at the world around us we see everything in both fine and coarse detail.
Many think this innate ability to recognise faces overcomes our visual cues of depth so we always perceive the mask as a face.
When we are closer to an object, the fine detail dominates and as we get further away, the coarse detail dominates.

This illusion persists, even when the face is turned upside down (although the effect is weaker).
This happens a lot faster for the brighter parts of the picture compared to the dark so when you look at a blank wall after staring at the above image it produces Jesus’s face. Interestingly, schizophrenics are not fooled by the hollow mask along with people who are drunk or high. So, your sensory perception of the image is exactly the same (the individual parts) but your brain has grouped the picture into two interpretations: two black faces or one white vase.
It even works in colour as well, stare at the red dot on the image below and look at a blank piece of paper, pretty cool ‘huh? However, the left hand face shows an angry man in fine detail whereas the right hand face shows an angry man in coarse detail and vice versa.
Therefore, as you move away from the pictures the faces seem to ‘swap’ from angry to calm, and Viola!

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