In life, we gain awareness and consciousness about many different subjects, changing the way we perceive our world. A cognitive illusion occurs when our mind relates anything that we are observing to another object that relates to it and is present within our subconscious. Thus, the image sparks our subconscious mind and brings forward a relatable perception into the conscious one, allowing us to use our assumptions about the world to create unconscious inferences about what we see in front of us.
The concept of unconscious inferences was first suggested by a German physician and physicist named Hermann Helmholtz in the 19th century. Rather than physically perceiving an object, we mentally create ideas and perceptions about it and this is a cognitive illusion, that we infer and understand what has not truly been explained in front of us.
Types of Cognitive Illusions
As a step away from the world of reality, the perceptions made by our cognitive mind can be distributed into the following four categories:
There are many images that may be perceived differently if they are seen from different angels or if they are seen in black and white without any colors. For all of these images, your perception will continue to switch and change with the way the image is presented to you, thus, making the actual object into an illusion that is perceived differently every time. The ambiguity of the image is what causes the illusion.
When you are able to perceive the same image differently due to a distortion of its size, curve, length, or position, it is known as a distorting illusion. These illusions occur when the physical aspect of the image is modified, making you change your perception entirely. The illusion however, is not caused by a change in the dimensions of the image. Rather, the fact that you can see a change is the illusion itself, as the image remains constant but you perceive its dimensions to be ever changing rather than remaining constant.
Paradox illusions are generated by images that are completely paradoxical or impossible in reality. The illusion is in the fact that they contradict reality, and are generated by objects that appear life like and three-dimensional within a two dimensional image. The images themselves are convincing enough, but are still impossible within the bounds of reality.
Fictional illusions are those that are not actually created but are perceived by one individual. These illusions are also called hallucinations and can be induced due to schizophrenia or a hallucinogen. In these illusions, the observer sees images that are not even present in front of him or her, and these images are seen by the observer alone, without the presence of an actual stimulus.
Our brain is continuously trying to relate whatever information is in our minds with whatever we are observing in the world around us and this is why we are sometimes able to see images and perceive concepts that are not even a part of our reality.