Popular Science

Try to spot all the masks in this picture

YOU PROBABLY OVERLOOK THINGS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU EVERY SINGLE DAY

- BY JILLIAN MOCK

HAVING TROUBLE FINDING EVERY FACE covering? There’s a reason tasks like this are challengin­g for even experience­d puzzle sleuths: We don’t see everything in our field of view. In fact, our brains forbid it.

Our minds can only focus on so much at once, says Susana Martinez-Conde, a neuroscien­tist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York. Neurons in our visual cortices have limited bandwidth. If they attempted to take in everything, we would struggle to pick out life-or-death details.

So the brain directs our vision, filtering out irrelevant objects. If we’re crossing the street, it sends signals to tune into a car speeding toward us as opposed to, say, a bluebird or a friendly neighbor out for a stroll. We might miss some things, but at least we’ll live to tell the tale.

To crack the puzzle above, focus your attention on one small section at a time—otherwise your noggin will lock in on the biggest parts of the picture and blur out everything else. (The answers are on page 106.)

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