How We ‘See’ What We See!

Haven’t you ever wondered as to how exactly do we perceive things? If not, then well, it sure is time to do the same!

The sense of vision is one of the most fundamental elements that enable us to witness our universe. All the laws of physics, the observable universe and everything we come across is experientially enhanced by the ability of our brain to decipher the amount of data that it receives via the eyes. And boy our brain sure is a super-processor! It not only receives the input from the visual sensory organs, but it somehow seems to follow various algorithms to decipher it.

The Brain seems to follow an unreal algorithm via which it deciphers the data provided to it via the visual sensory organs.

The determination of these patterns and algorithms led to Fritz and Laura Perla to establish a theory known as the ‘Gestalt Psychology’. Although it is a very extensive topic, I have tried to highlight its main features illustrating with examples where needed, cause after all, it is a theory based on visual perception!

It is important to understand that this is not a defined order which the brain follows, rather, it is just an algorithm to make sense of the mannerisms in which the brain processes data.

Objects that are similar are grouped together”

In the above illustration, most people observe a column of squares followed by that of circles.

The reason for this being that the brain tends to associate objects of similar shape to be categorically similar rather which is why squares are associated with squares and not circles.

This makes us observe a column of a particular shape rather than a row comprising of both the shapes!

Reality and perception is often reduced to the most simplified version”

In the above illustration, our brain tends to assume that the picture is composed of 5 circles intertwined with each other rather than a complex set of major and minor arcs that give rise to this pattern.

Objects that are close to each other are grouped together.

In the above picture, we tend to observe two sets of circles- one to the left and one to the right. The reason for this observation is the that the distance between successive elements of one particular set of circles is lesser than that of the group in entirety.

Observed lines are those that follow the smoothest curve, with no sharp turns”

In the above picture, the set of circles that ascend from the datum are more visually pleasant than those which descend, this phenomena occurring due to the fact that our brains are hardwired into following the smoothest trajectory of objects in discussion.

Singular objects that are grouped together with indefinite boundaries are observed as a whole”

Do you see that invisible triangle in the middle of the composition? Well, that is the ability that our brain possesses- to fill in objects without their actual existence. Since the singular objects tend to define an internal boundary, we tend to observe the entire composition rather than its quanta.

The applications of this theory and it’s principles are absolutely spread out to almost every field be it photography, marketing, cinematography, and so forth. Human perception plays a critical role in judging whether a composition is viewed positively or negatively, thus its wide application.

I hope that after reading this, one is more sensitized towards the phenomena that we deem as granted and the pivotal role that our brain plays in determining and perceiving the world around us. If you haven’t read my post regarding the concept of free will do check it out.

Originally published at on November 27, 2017.

Final Year Student At IIT Roorkee | Writer | Sports Enthusiast | Blogger |