Reddit continues to be a vortex for all things mind-bending, nature-defying, and internet-breaking. And the optical illusion dog is no different. User chadwalk posted this picture of his optically-curious pooch, and it had everybody in a spin: what the heck is going on!
You've got a normal looking dog in the bottom right. And then...is that some kind of alien dog up top? Does it have a smooshed face? Is its mouth where its ear should be? Does it only have one eye? Something's got to give!
One Reddit responder said that the picture "dog broke my biological face recognition module." It hurt another user's head just looking at it. And understandably so... the picture, without the proper context, can be mind-numbing.
So, what's the deal? Well... the reason that the dog's face looks deformed is that it's resting in a really strange position. It's supine, lying on its back facing up. But its head is turned toward camera. Not only that, but the mottled coat also confuses the eye. As you can see, the dog is more or less normally proportioned — just a little flexible.
Take a look now: has it changed? Can you see the upturned head? The brown blanket in the background doesn't help clarify things, but you can see that the deformity is just due to the disposition of the doggy's noggin. Close one, right?
Then again, one user reported that they actually saw the image the "correct" way the first time. They didn't know what all the hubbub was about: "I actually saw it the 'correct' way first and couldn't work out what was supposed to be going on. Then I managed to see it the other way... Holy f***, reminds me of the dog that got teleported in The Fly 2."
If you're wondering what that dog that got teleported in The Fly 2 was, it's this.
Something similar happened with the dress a few years back. People saw different colors in the dress, and debate ensued. It brought to the fore the conflict between objective reality (what's really out there) and how our brains perceive it (a blue dress, a deformed dog).
Scientists believe that people have adapted to perceive reality in a way that is helpful and productive, but not necessarily pursuant to what's actually going on. So when we saw that dog, and it looked deformed, it's likely that we were repulsed or saddened because we evolved to have that response. If this dog was actually deformed, it likely would have been put down thousands of years ago. That's just the hard truth.
Back to facial recognition, a few years ago neuroscientists wanted to figure out just how our brains (or rather how primate brains) recognize faces. They tested monkeys, and found that brain neurons latch on to a single feature when beholding a face — not the whole face itself. That means that if one more feature is rearranged or out of place (like this dog's), it can throw the entire recognition out of whack.
Well, at the end of the day, this dog is just a dog. It's just on its back, looking up. No deformity here, nothing to look at. We can all go back to work (by which I mean scouring Reddit for the next sensation).