The process of seeing faces in objects is called pareidolia. We all see “false” faces in everyday objects such as clouds or in objects as common as an electrical socket. Scientists from a university in Australia conducted a study to look at whether our brain processes false faces in the same way it does with human faces. Their research shows there are some similarities in how we recognise both human and false faces.

In the study, volunteers looked at false and human faces. They rated the strength of emotion they felt upon seeing each one. The researchers said the brain was involved in the same processes when deciding what was or wasn’t a real face. A researcher said: “We know these objects are not truly faces, yet the perception of a face lingers.” He said our brain sees two things at once, and that we focus more on the image of the face than the object.