What is Multistable Perception?
Multistable perception makes you doubt the image you see in the picture. It compels you to see the other image that your mind fails to perceive. So, you twist your head, squint your eyes, or move closer to the picture, until the other picture appears to you.
Now, you’re able to see a young woman and an old woman at the same time (“My Wife and Mother-in-Law”). There are many more pictures similar to that to leave you amazed and wondering how is this possible? Keep in mind that the world of illusions consists of endless possibilities with multistable illusion being one of the most prominent ones.
Multistable perception affects many functions besides the visual system, which include auditory, olfactory, and tactile. In order to produce a multistable illusion, the artist draws an ambiguous image, which the visual system is unable to recognize it in its entirety, thus giving birth to a perceptual phenomena.
Examples of Perceptual Phenomena
Perceptual phenomenon takes the mind on a visual journey where it enables the mind to view a variety of different images, allowing the mind to distinguish two images simultaneously. Do you want to see classic examples of multistable perception? In fact, you have probably seen one, but now, you can put a name behind the illusion. Look up the following multistable illusions, Necker Cube, Obama Vase, Binocular Rivalry, and Monocular Rivalry. Viewing the images will help you comprehend the mechanics behind multistable perception better. If you can’t seem to make out the other images, use a visual cue to distinguish one image from another.
For instance, in the “My Wife and Mother-in-Law” image, focus on the necklace of the young woman and you will see an old woman appear. In the “Obama Vase,” focus on the outline of the vase to see the side of Barack Obama face . Apart from visual perception, you can view multistable perception in the form of color, depth, and ground/figure perception.
1. Color Perception- Where a person sees colors change from time to time.
2. Depth Perception- Where a person sees different versions of a vague or ambiguous picture depending on its depths and the angle they choose to view it from.
3. Ground/Figure Perception- Where a person interprets the image differently, which mainly depends on the image they decide is the ground or figure.
Additionally, did you know that this illusion isn’t just found in images or drawings, but physical examples of it are found on earth as well. The most famous being the pictures of craters. Craters if viewed using stereo imaging look like pits. Conversely, craters if viewed using mono-vision will look like plateaus.
Multistable perception has made a name for itself even on earth. In addition, writers and illustrators often use multistable perception in their work. This phenomenon will forever amaze people and gather new audiences down the line.