Nov 30, 2006
By: Caroline Latham
What do you see?
Do you see a series of black shapes on a white background, or do you see a white word on black background?
This image is an example of an ambiguous illusion — a picture or object that requires perceptual switching between the alternative interpretations of figure and ground. Our visual system simplifies visual scenes into a foreground figure that we focus on and a ground which is everything else and forms the background. And although you may be able to switch the figure and ground back and forth to see one image or the other, your eyes will not let you see both images at the same time. Our visual perception is created by our brain’s interpretation in the cerebral cortex of visual information entering through the visual pathway.