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People Are Losing Their Minds Over This Extremely Confusing Photo

A photo cropping up in various Internet forums is making people frustrated and confused when they realise that they cannot name a single object in the scene.

The photo has been circulating on the Internet since at least the end of last year, but went viral this week on Twitter after a user posted it with the caption, "Name one thing in this photo".

Users were quickly dismayed by the image, with one person posting that it was like "realising you're having a dream while dreaming".

There is speculation that the image was created to emulate the experience of visual agnosia, a rare neurological condition in which a person can see but can not comprehend or interpret visual information.

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The condition can be caused by damage or lesions to the brain as a result of traumatic injury such as stroke or carbon monoxide poisoning. It can also be associated with underlying conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

The following image gives an example from a 1983 paper on patients suffering from visual agnosia and their attempts to identify everyday objects.

Examples of patients with visual agnosia responding to drawings of common objects. Source: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1983.

Visual agnosia became commonly recognised as the condition described in the primary narrative of Oliver Sacks' book 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat'.

Sacks prevents a detailed case study of Mr P. in the book, a well-regarded musician who suffers from visual agnosia and can no longer recognise objects:

"Can I help?" I asked. 

"Help what? Help whom?"

"Help you put on your shoe."

"Ach," he said. "I had forgotten the shoe," adding, sotto voce, "The shoe? The shoe?" He seemed baffled.

"Your shoe," I repeated. "Perhaps you'd put it on."

"He continued to look downwards, though not at the shoe, with an intense but misplaced concentration. Finally his gaze settled on his foot: "That is my shoe, yes?"

Did I mis-hear? Did he mis-see?

"My eyes," he explained, and put a hand to his foot. "This is my shoe, no?"

"No, it is not. That is your foot. There is your shoe."

"Ah! I thought that was my foot."

The image imitates this visually-confused experience by providing its audience with a room that seems eerily as though it should be filled with recognisable objects but, upon closer inspection, does not allow the viewer to put their finger on anything.

The image was likely created by an algorithm such as Ganbreeder, an AI project funded by Google that creates infinitely more mind-bending pictures by mixing images.

The products are visually similar to the AI Deep Dream Generator, which was invented to try and replicate what a deep neural network was seeing when given a particular visual stimulus.