Gestalt principles of visual grouping

Alice McCarthy, November 1st, 2010 | Filed under
  • This figure from Bang Wong's
    feature column emphasizes the
    visual power of grouping.

Gestalt principles of perception are theories proposed by German psychologists in the 1920s to explain how people organize visual information. In his monthly column in Nature Methods, the Broad's Creative Director, Bang Wong, explains how Gestalt psychology is often at the root of how visual images are seen and interpreted. In this first of two articles on Gestalt principles and how we tend to visually assemble objects into groups, Bang discusses how to use grouping to present visual information on a page in a scientific publication. In this column, he describes how the eye tends to group visual information depending on similarity, proximity, connection and enclosure of images in relation to each other. Depending on how the images are grouped, seemingly automatic visual connections can be highlighted or changed. 

Bang's monthly feature column began in Nature Methods in August 2010. You can view archived features here, here, and here.