Pareidolia and the link to dementia



Are there specific differences in the wiring of some people's brains that makes them more likely to get dementia?


Much research has been done on this subject, but some of the most fascinating to me is that which centres around a possible link between pareidolia and dementia, with special reference to Lewy Body dementia.


What is Pareidolia?

Pareidolia is defined as:

"the perception of apparently significant patterns or recognizable images, especially faces, in random or accidental arrangements of shapes and lines."

In layman's terms people see faces in stuff. So do you see a face in the image below?


Of course you do. But how often does your brain construct recognisable objects from random or accidental lines, patterns and shapes? Cast your mind back to your childhood. Do you recall lying in your bed half asleep, staring at the curtains or the wallpaper and imagining faces or animal shapes in the patterns of the fabrics?


It's a common thing for children to do, and we dismiss it by saying that children have "active imaginations". But what about when this propensity to see things that aren't really there continues into adulthood? is that normal? is it significant?


There have been some fascinating studies that appear to show a link between pareidolia and dementia - particularly lewy bodies dementia, and may be linked to the lucid dreaming and sensory overload that many of us endure from time to time. Remember the "faces on Mars" headlines in the tabloids a few years ago? A classic case of pareidolia. Ditto the face of Jesus Christ on a slice of toast,


But our brains are designed to detect faces. Wired to seek them out since the days when our ancestors were fighting for survival in the primeval jungles and savannahs. For some of us though, the ability is stronger than it is for others, and there may be a link to dementia.


So could a simple pareidolia test be a useful weapon in the armoury of someone who is looking for the early signs of dementia? And, on a similar topic, I wonder if any research has been done on linking anthropomorphism to dementia? Could there be a link? is it relevant? I'd love to hear your views.

Here's a slideshow of pareidolia examples. I hope you enjoy them...


I am inspired to find out more about this fascinating subject, because I too see "faces in stuff" all the time - always have. and sometimes I struggle to differentiate between reality and illusion - especially upon waking.


Please let me know your thoughts on this interesting topic and share any interesting or funny pictures of "faces in stuff".


Reference Material:

Pareidolias: complex visual illusions in dementia with Lewy bodies


The Pareidolia Test: A Simple Neuropsychological Test Measuring Visual Hallucination-Like Illusions

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