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169 Best Illusions--A Sampling

You won't believe your eyes when you see these visual illusions

1 of 11

169 Best Illusions

See the rest of these illusions and many more in the MIND Special Issue "169 Best Illusions" on newstands now or buy the digital edition . > Buy the digital issue now....[ More ]

Food for Thought: Visual Illusions Good Enough to Eat

Our brains have evolved to quickly detect things that are important to human survival. In this “foodscape” by London photographer Carl Warner, meats and breads activate the higher-level circuits in our brain that are hard-wired to recognize foods.....[ More ]

Sculpting the Impossible: Solid Renditions of Visual Illusions

Impossible figures, such as the famous Penrose triangle, depict 3-D objects that defy the laws of nature. Each corner of the triangle looks plausible on its own, so the brain accepts the object as a whole even though it cannot physically exist.....[ More ]

Art as Visual Research: Kinetic Illusions in Op Art

With the birth of the op art movement in the 1960s, illusions became a recognized art form. The most striking examples of op art are kinetic illusions in which stationary patterns create the perception of motion.....[ More ]

The Illusions of Love

The way we see things depends on our frame of mind. In this illusion, Message of Love from the Dolphins , adult viewers see two nude lovers embracing. But when young children look at this image, they see only dolphins.....[ More ]

The Eyes Have It

As social primates, humans have a keen interest in where people are looking. Vision research Pawan Sinha of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows us with this illusion that our brains determine gaze direction by comparing the dark parts of the eyes (the irises and pupils) with the whites.....[ More ]

What’s in a Face?

Our brains are exquisitely tuned to perceive, recognize and remember faces. In the Illusion of Sex, by Gettysburg College psychologist Richard Russell, the left face is perceived as female while the right face is perceived as male.....[ More ]

Colors Out of Space

Sometimes we see colors where they do not physically exist. In this illusion, the colors of the small crosses appear to diffuse into the empty spaces surrounding each intersection. This effect is known as neon color spreading, because it resembles the glare from a neon light.....[ More ]

The Neuroscience of Yorick’s Ghost and Other Afterimages

When you stare at an image, the neurons in your retina eventually adapt to this unchanging stimulus and stop responding to it. If you then look away, you can see a ghostly afterimage during the brief period that it takes for your neurons to reset to their responsive state.....[ More ]

A Perspective on 3-D Visual Illusions

The leaning tower illusion is one of the simplest visual tricks ever discovered, but it is also one of the most profound contributions to our understanding of depth perception. Three years ago Frederick Kingdom, Ali Yoonessi and Elena Gheorghiu of McGill University noticed that two identical side-by-side images of the Leaning Tower of Pisa appeared to lean at different angles.....[ More ]

The Neuroscience of Illusion

Brightness and color can have powerful effects on perception. In this illusion created by vision scientist Edward H. Adelson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, squares A and B are the same shade of gray.....[ More ]

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