- The Psychology of Design
- 1. What you See isn't what your Brain Gets
- 2. Peripheral Vision is used more than Central Vision to get the Gist of what you See
- 3. People Identify Objects by Recognizing Patterns
- 4. There's a Special Part of the Brain Just for Recognizing Faces
3. People Identify Objects by Recognizing Patterns
Recognizing patterns helps you make quick sense of the sensory input that comes to you every second. Your eyes and brain want to create patterns, even if there are no real patterns there. In Figure 3.1, you probably see four sets of two dots each rather than eight individual dots. You interpret the white space, or lack of it, as a pattern.
FIGURE 3.1 Your brain wants to see patterns
The Geon Theory of Object Recognition
There have been many theories over the years about how we see and recognize objects. An early theory was that the brain has a memory bank that stores millions of objects, and when you see an object, you compare it with all the items in your memory bank until you find the one that matches. But research now suggests that you recognize basic shapes in what you are looking at, and use these basic shapes, called geometric icons (or geons), to identify objects. Irving Biederman came up with the idea of geons in 1987 (Figure 3.2). It’s thought that there are 24 basic shapes that we recognize; they form the building blocks of all the objects we see and identify.
FIGURE 3.2 Some samples of Biederman’s geons
If you want people to quickly recognize what an object is, you should make use of simple shapes. This makes it easier to recognize the basic geons that make up the shape. The smaller the object to recognize (for example, a small icon of a printer or a document), the more important it is to use simple geons without a lot of embellishment.