Visual Ambiguity Presentation

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  • Look carefully at the art
  • In the following presentation we will be looking at “night vision” issues that can cause the person that suffers with this many problems. We will look at the working of the human eyes and how a person with night vision difficulties may see things different than a person that does not suffer from night vision difficulties. We will also look at how light can make a different in how things can be seen, and the importance of visual perception to the cognitive processes. We will also look at how a person with poor night vision can also be fooled by what they may think they see on or by the road as they drive due to visual distortion. We will learn the possible causes of poor night vision, and how people with poor night vision are effected.
  • The human eye cannot produce the same images as a camera. A picture from a camera comes from a two-dimensional patch of colors and shades.When we look at pictures with the human eye, they seem to be three-dimensional and our visual system produces this as a flat image that we see.When light reflects off of the retina of the eye, located at the back of the eyeball, which produces a 3-dimensional image. Light from the world is reflected off of the retina after it passes through the lens of the eye. The brain then processes the images, otherwise we would see them as being upside-down. Distance makes objects appear smaller, as projected on the retina, but two objects may appear to be the same size to us. If we tilt our heads, things around us remain in the same position. The same as if we close one of our eyes it will not affect our depth perception.
  • Visual information includes details about shape, brightness, and a combination of distance and size. Assumptions must be made about each when attempting to understand what is being seen. Perception includes utilizing prior experience and cues from the environment in order to determine an object’s placement, shape, and size (Willingham, 2007).
  • Cognitive psychology is the study of human actions; these are language, perception, attention, problem solving, creativity, thinking and memory. Cognitive psychologists study these actions to understand how an individuals mind work, and what are the causes of why the mind works this way. Cognitive psychologists study the mind through scientific methods, and not through observing behaviors. Perception is an important part to cognitive psychology. Perception is how individuals perceive; or see the world. The 5 senses are involved in perception; individuals can perceive things through touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting. The way a person perceives these senses plays a huge role in how a person may perceive the world, and how it might predict someone’s behavior. “UlricNeisser defines cognitivism as the mind follows perceptive process much like a computer processes information, but the differences is that humans do this through a specific point of view.” (Ellis, 2003-2011, para. 1-2) For a cognitive psychologist, the study of perception lets them look in to how the mind works and why it works that way.
  • Assumptions are made about the different aspects of perception through a variety of cues (Willingham, 2007). There are cues which pertain to size and distance. There are cues present in the environment. Other cues come from a person’s prior experiences (Willingham, 2007). One example of a visual ambiguity is poor night vision.
  • The brightness perceived in the environment and the appearance of light on an object is directly related to the quantity of light hitting the retina of the eye (Willingham, 2007). Increased or decreased shading is interpreted by the visual system as shadows. This gives an object the quality of dimension. In order to compensate for the difficulty of seeing in dark or near dark environments, the visual system makes assumptions about light. According to Willingham (2007), “luminance or the amount of light hitting the retina” is affected by several possible factors (p. 4). These include the direction in which the light is shining, the shading of the object, and the placement of color (Willingham, 2007). The assumptions made by the visual system about lighting are that the outside of objects or surfaces are “uniformly colored” and that light originates above the object (Willingham, 2007, p. 4). Although this generally makes sense when considering the direction from which sunlight shines, there are other sources of light coming from many directions. Making assumptions sometimes causes incorrect interpretation of shape and appearance. Although making assumptions does, on occasion, produce flawed perceptions, doing so is necessary when interpreting visual information.
  • Visual perception is important to the cognitive processes as it allows a person to become familiar with his or her environment. People see different events and details daily, and this information processes through the assistance of visual perception. Through visual perception the brain will take the information in and identify and interpret it. The brain allows learning and storing of the new information for future reference, if necessary. For example, a person may witness an explosion caused by the combination of two chemicals he or she has never seen. The brain will process this new information allowing the person to recognize at a later date the two chemicals and the potential risk involved with using these chemical products together. In addition, visual perception allows people to become aware of others around them and how to relate to them. To live within an environment people take the visual information perceived into consideration so they know how to act and react (Cherry, 2011).
  • An individual’s visual perception process involves the environment he or she exists in as it guides how the person will respond to the stimuli around him or her (Cherry, 2011). For example, a person driving at night who has poor night vision may think he or she sees an animal cross his or her path, but it was only a trash bag floating across the street. In this situation, the individual may halt rapidly in the middle of a street causing an accident. If the individual did not possess this visual distortion he or she may have recognized the trash bag and not reacted in this particular manner. Visual perception helps people gain a better understanding of stimuli within their environment and how to adapt or react to the stimuli so they survive.
  • Not all illusions are completely understood or perceived in the same manner, especially when someone has a visual ambiguity such as poor night time vision. Possessing a visual ambiguity causes issues for those individuals who acquire one so the way they perceive or react to the environment they live in may be different over someone who does not deal with a visual ambiguity. The light and brightness plays a role on how a person views people and stimuli around him or her. In addition, visual perception is pertinent to cognitive processes as it helps people identify features of his or her environment and other people so they know how to react and survive.


  • 1.  PSY/360 11/11/2011 Learning team “C” Amy, Jonine, Melissa A., Nekesha, &Sandra
  • 2. • Visual system resolves ambiguities• Resolving Ambiguities• Cues in the Visual System• Brightness• The role of perception in cognitive psychology• The role of perception in cognitive psychology
  • 3. • Perceiving:• Objects• Color• Motion
  • 4. • Making Assumptions About: Shape Brightness Distance and Size
  • 5. • Cognitive Psychology• Perception• The 5 Senses
  • 6. Brightness• Coping with poor nightvision• Requires making assumptions• Involves shading, directionof light
  • 7. • Aids in creating our conscious experience• Assists with processing information  Brain categorizes and interprets information• Helps with understanding the world we live in  Provides ability to interact with others  Allows people to perform within environment
  • 8. • Distinguish stimuli and reactions to stimuli• Achieve knowledge about environment vital to existence
  • 9. • Visual illusions• Preconceived expectations• Perception and Illusion• Light and Color
  • 10. Anderson,D. (2006). Introduction to the science of vision. Retrieved from, K. (2011). Perception and the perceptual process. Retrieved from Psychology, art. (2011). Retrieved from, M. (2011). Picture of week. Retrieved from viral/ Figure Ground Ambiguity. (2011). Retrieved from, J. (2003-2011). What does a cognitive psychologist do?. Retrieved from cognitive-psychologist-do.htmFarkas, A. L. (2011). Visual perception. Retrieved from perception.htmlKent, J. (2008). [Image of Akiyoshi Kitaoka "Rotating Snakes“ illusion] Selective 5HT-2A agonist hallucinogens: a review of pharmacological and corollary perceptual effects. Retrieved from state-theory.htmWillingham, D. T. (2007). Cognition: the thinking animal (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.