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If you have ever imagined a face an inanimate object, your brain is engaged a process called pareidolia. This is the tendency to see a pattern or meaning something, where actually there is nothing there. Seeing faces in everyday objects is a common experience. Many us perceive a smiley face in the clouds, the froth of a cappuccino, or in an object as mundane as an electrical plug socket. Scientists the University of Sydney in Australia conducted a study to investigate whether our brain processes these illusory faces the same way it does with real human faces. Their research suggests there are some similarities how we recognise both human and "false" faces.

In the study, 17 volunteers looked a series of illusory and human faces. They had to rate the strength emotional attachment they felt seeing each one. The researchers' conclusion was that the same neural circuitry was involved determining what was or wasn't a real face. Psychologist David Alais said: "We know these objects are not truly faces, yet the perception a face lingers." He added: "We end with...a parallel experience that the object is both a compelling face and an object." Mr Alais said the brain sees two things once, and that we focus more the image a face than the fact it is an object. He added: "The first impression a face does not give way to the second perception an object."

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