Pattern recognition enhancement

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Face in a cloud by Neil Usher - This image serves as an example of pattern recognition enhancement.

Pattern recognition enhancement can be described as an increase in a person's ability to recognise patterns (usually faces) within vague stimuli. Psychedelics enhance the availability of information managed in the brain through inhibiting the lower brain structures' gating systems.[1][2] General effects of psychedelics involve the temporary disruption of the normal neural hierarchy, replacing the normally predominant top-down control of information transfer in the brain with an increasingly bottom-up dynamic characterized by an increased influence of posterior regions over frontal areas of the brain. This decoupling of the frontal areas with the medial lobes resulted in a disorganization of the high-level networks responsible for large-scale brain network integrity, resulting in increased flexibility of networks and a more open communication among them.[3][4]

This innate ability which human beings possess in everyday life is referred to by the scientific literature as pareidolia and is a well documented phenomenon.[5][6][7] Common examples of this include spotting faces in everyday objects, such as the front of a car, or seeing different objects in clouds.[8]

During this effect, pareidolia can become significantly more pronounced than it would usually be during everyday sober living.[9] For example, scenery may look remarkably like detailed images, everyday objects may look like faces, and clouds may appear as fantastical objects, all without any visual alterations actually taking place. Once an image has been perceived within an object or landscape, the mind may further exaggerate this recognition through the hallucinatory effect known as transformations, which goes beyond pareidolia and becomes a standard visual hallucination.

Pattern recognition enhancement is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as acuity enhancement and colour enhancement.[10][11] It is most commonly induced under the influence of mild dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline.

Image examples

Psychoactive substances

Compounds within our psychoactive substance index which may cause this effect include:

Psychoactive substances

Anecdotal reports which describe this effect within our experience index include:

See also

External links


  1. Recent advances and concepts in the search for biological correlates of hallucinogen-induced altered states of consciousness. Heffter Rev. Psychedel. Res. 1, 21–32.
  2. Vollenweider F. (2001). Brain mechanisms of hallucinogens and entactogens. Dialogues Clin. Neurosci. 3, 265–279.
  3. Riba, J., Rodrıguez-Fornells, A., Strassman, R. J., & Barbanoj, M. J. (2001). Psychometric assessment of the hallucinogen rating scale. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 62(3), 215-223.
  4. Winkelman, M. J. (2017). The Mechanisms of Psychedelic Visionary Experiences: Hypotheses from Evolutionary Psychology. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 11, 539.
  5. Liu, J., Li, J., Feng, L., Li, L., Tian, J., & Lee, K. (2014). Seeing Jesus in toast: neural and behavioral correlates of face pareidolia. Cortex, 53, 60-77.
  6. Kato, M., & Mugitani, R. (2015). Pareidolia in infants. PloS one, 10(2), e0118539.
  7. Coolidge, F. L., & Coolidge, M. L. (2016, August 09). Why People See Faces When There Are None: Pareidolia. Retrieved February 21, 2018, from
  8. Abraham, H. D. (1983). Visual phenomenology of the LSD flashback. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 40(8), 886-887.
  9. Halberstadt, A. L. (2015). Recent advances in the neuropsychopharmacology of serotonergic hallucinogens. Behavioural brain research, 277, 99-120.
  10. Papoutsis, I., Nikolaou, P., Stefanidou, M., Spiliopoulou, C., & Athanaselis, S. (2015). 25B-NBOMe and its precursor 2C-B: modern trends and hidden dangers. Forensic Toxicology, 33(1), 4.
  11. Bersani, F. S., Corazza, O., Albano, G., Valeriani, G., Santacroce, R., Bolzan Mariotti Posocco, F., ... & Schifano, F. (2014). 25C-NBOMe: preliminary data on pharmacology, psychoactive effects, and toxicity of a new potent and dangerous hallucinogenic drug. BioMed Research International, 2014.