Presidents’ Day Optical Illusion

Animation, Upside Down 16 February 2015 0 Comments

In honor of Presidents’ Day here in the United States, today’s illusion features Barack Obama, the 44th U.S. President.  Both photographs of Obama look fairly normal when viewed upside down.  When the images are inverted, however, it is obvious that his eyes and mouth are upside down on one of photographs and normal on the other.  Why do you think that this modification is difficult to see when viewing his face upside down?

Obama Animated GIF

This illusion is a variation of the Thatcher Illusion (because Margaret Thatcher was the original subject used) and was discovered by Psychology Professor Peter Thompson in 1980.  Thompson concluded his original article with the following:

“Further research into this illusion might help determine whether face recognition is a serial or a parallel process, is achieved by face-specific analysers searching for distinguishing characteristics or by some perceptual gestalt.  It might even tell us something about Margaret Thatcher.”

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