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Practical examples in the field of visual illusions

Did you know that our perception is an active interpretation of reality?
© University of Padova

Did you know that our perception is an active interpretation of reality?

We aren’t just passive decoders–it’s quite the opposite, in fact. We start from sensory information reaching the sensory organs, but then when the information reaches the brain, another story begins, where we need to find meaning behind the complex sensory stimulation we received.

With respect to this issue, visual illusions are commonly defined as “windows into the mysteries of mind” because they can reveal how our perceptual system works.

Optical illusion

But the first step in establishing whether an animal model could become a ‘model’ in psychology consists in assessing whether the stimuli we present in experiments are indeed seen as we want by the animals.

For instance, if I want to study face perception in monkeys and I present the famous Arcimboldo face to them, how sure am I that they also perceive faces? Perhaps they only see a cluster of fruits and vegetables!

Question Monkey

This is just an example to tell you how important it is to assess whether the perceptual abilities of animals are similar to those of humans. If not, we risk animals not doing the task the way we want or expect!

In the following steps, we will see some examples of free-choice tests and training procedures in the study of visual perception of animals. To further unpack this, we’ll take a look at three examples in visual illusion studies, the Delboeuf Illusion, the Solitaire Illusion, and that of Rotating Snakes.

© University of Padova
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Research Methods in Psychology: Using Animal Models to Understand Human Behaviour

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