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Duck Or Rabbit? The Way You Interpret This Image Says A Lot About How Your Brain Works

What do you see, a duck or a rabbit? This image, you have probably already seen, and for good reason; it is one of the oldest and most famous optical illusions and shows how fascinating the workings of the human brain are, and sometimes it takes only a few words to change the interpretation of a situation by the brain.

Duck Or Rabbit? The Way You Interpret This Image Says A Lot About How Your Brain Works


Where does this famous image come from?
It was in 1953 that the TV show Science in the Making: Right Hand, Left Hand of the British television channel BBC broadcast this image to the general public by asking viewers if they saw a duck or a rabbit. The presenter at the time, Dr. Jacob Bronowski, argued that the answer to this question varied depending on whether one was right-handed or left-handed. Later, a study from University College London showed that it was rather the kind and age of an individual that determined which animal he would see first.

What does this optical illusion tell us about our mind?

1. The brain needs a context to process information
More recently, one study has shown that it is actually the context, in other words the information we have and our state of mind that led to one or the other of the results. Clearly, this study has demonstrated the importance of the context in the treatment of information by the brain.

During the study, half of the volunteers saw only one of the two animals when the drawing was presented to them. To these, the researchers, who were trying to find out how to make them see both the duck and the rabbit, gave some clues, like the fact that the duck was "next to" the rabbit; but it was only when the participants were asked to recognize "a duck eating a rabbit" that the latter suddenly reached it.

2. People who struggle to see both animals at once would be more naive
Another conclusion of the authors is that people who see only one animal on the drawing and who have difficulty distinguishing the two at the same time would be more naive than the others. To see only one animal would indicate a propensity for people to believe what they see without considering the context.

3. It is possible to control how the brain interprets things
Kyle E. Mathewson, author of the study, said, "This study also demonstrates that we can control how the brain interprets information with just a few words or with an image."

For him, the information we have would play an important role in the way we understand and interpret facts and situations.

For example, when children were shown the same image in the Easter period, they were more likely to see a rabbit; when, on the other hand, it was presented to them in the winter, they saw a duck instead.

4. We are all more or less victims of our cognitive biases
Cognitive biases are subconscious connections that we establish in thought between different elements and which are at the root of how we make certain judgments or perceive certain things. These psychological mechanisms aim to save us time and spare us the mental fatigue that would be generated by an almost constant solicitation of our cognitive resources and conscious thought efforts.

Anyway, cognitive biases are at the root of many of our misjudgments and explain why we are so easily trapped by misinformation, or fake-news.

How to avoid these pitfalls of thought and have the least biased reasoning possible?
- Recognize that our knowledge is limited and not have too much faith in our own judgments

- Analyze the situation

- Considering things from many different angles, adopting different points of view, or even from an outside observer's point of view

- Get informed and acquire new knowledge

- Have a global vision of things

- Think more than once about a problem and consider other alternatives
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