How It Works


These creations have more than one reality


How your brain is tricked When you look at this work of art, you will notice a person. But what does that person look like? Entitled ‘My Wife and my Motherin-law’, this drawing by American cartoonist William Ely Hill captures both the characters in its title at once. Depending on which section your eyes examine first, you will either be drawn to the young or old woman. Some psychologi­sts have concluded that if you are younger you are more likely to notice the young woman first, while if you are older you will notice the old, possibly due to people spending more time around others close in age. When your brain is trying to quickly make sense of what you are viewing, it will create familiar shapes and objects, and the woman in that category will be seen first. If you are still struggling to work out where the other woman is, the old woman’s mouth doubles up as the young woman’s necklace, while the young woman’s chin and jawline make up the old woman’s large, pointy nose.

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