Once people perceive what is in the hidden figure such as Dallenbach's cow and Dalmatian, they seldom seem to come back to the previous state when they were ignorant of the answer. This special type of learning process can be accomplished in a short time, with the effect of learning lasting for a long time (visual one-shot learning). Although it is an intriguing cognitive phenomenon, the lack of the control of difficulty of stimuli presented has been a problem in research. Here we propose a novel paradigm to create new hidden figures systematically by using a morphing technique. Through gradual changes from a blurred and binarized two-tone image to a blurred grayscale image of the original photograph including objects in a natural scene, spontaneous one-shot learning can occur at a certain stage of morphing when a sufficient amount of information is restored to the degraded image. A negative correlation between confidence levels and reaction times is observed, giving support to the fluency theory of one-shot learning. The correlation between confidence ratings and correct recognition rates indicates that participants had an accurate introspective ability (metacognition). The learning effect could be tested later by verifying whether or not the target object was recognized quicker in the second exposure. The present method opens a way for a systematic production of "good" hidden figures, which can be used to demystify the nature of visual one-shot learning.
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