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Art as Visual Research: Kinetic Illusions in Op Art [Preview]

Art and neuroscience combine to create fascinating examples of illusory motion

ART MEETS SCIENCE
This recent work by French artist José Ferreira, Nerve Impulse, not only reprises the Léviant effect but also illustrates how nerve cells relay information from the eye to the brain: triggered by a flood of chemicals called neurotransmitters, nerve cells (at top) send electrical signals racing down slender structures called axons. At the axon's knoblike terminals, each nerve cell releases its own neurotransmitters, which diffuse across a narrow synapse gap and bind with receptors on the branchlike dendrites of the next nerve cell to trigger a new electrical signal. Each successive neuron passes the message to its neighbor, like a bucket brigade passing a pail of water.

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