Unity and Harmony

Cognitive psychologists have developed the Gestalt ("whole" or "pattern" in German) theory to help explain human perception. This theory proposes a set of organizing principles that enable humans to understand the sensory world.

The brain tends to group objects that are close to each other into a larger unit. This is especially true with objects which share properties such as size, shape, color or value. wpe8.jpg (4158 bytes)
Negative or empty spaces will likewise be organized and grouped. Elements are divided into planes, such as foreground and background planes.
Patterns or objects that continue in one direction, even if interrupted by another pattern, are perceived as being continuous. The brain wants to perceive a finished or whole unit even if there are gaps in it. wpe9.jpg (4701 bytes)

  The brain attempts to interpret the world by finding constancies. If a person is familiar with an object, he remembers its size, shape and color and applies that memory when he sees that object in an unfamiliar environment. This helps him to become familiar with the new environment, instead of becoming disoriented, by relating the objects in the new environment to the known object.

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Last changed June 6, 2005, G. Scott Owen, owen (at) siggraph.org