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Illusions: The Eyes Have It

Eye gaze is critically important to humans, as social primates. Maybe that's why illusions involving eyes are so compelling.

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A fascination with eyes is not solely a human trait. Many species of fish, insects, and even birds sport false (one could say illusory) eyes on their wings, stalks, and yes, even the backs of their heads.....[ More ]

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Have you ever visited an art museum and noticed that the portraits seem to follow you with their eyes? Such eye tracking is not only a B-movie horror flick cliché, but also a powerful illusion that continues to inspire visual science studies.....[ More ]

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The perceived direction of gaze is also influenced by contextual cues, such as the position of the face and the head. This illusion was described in 1824 by British chemist and natural philosopher William Hyde Wollaston (who also discovered the elements palladium and rhodium).....[ More ]

SEEING DOUBLE?

But what if you double up the features of a portrait in without overlapping them completely? It's relatively easy to create images in Photoshop in which the eyes and the mouth, but no other facial features, have been doubled.....[ More ]

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The Ghostly Gaze illusion is based on the hybrid image technology created by Aude Oliva and Phillippe Schyns at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a shocking example of how perceptual interpretation can vary with viewing distance, Albert Einstein (seen from up close) becomes Marilyn Monroe (seen from a few meters away).....[ More ]

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In another example of a hybrid image (see previous slide), this ghostly face appears to look to the left when you sit in front of your computer screen. Step a few meters back, however, and she will start to look to the right.....[ More ]

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Not knowing where a person is looking makes us uneasy. For this reason, it can be awkward to converse with somebody with dark sunglasses. And it's why someone might wear dark sunglasses to look "mysterious." A recently identified visual illusion takes advantage of the unsettling effect of uncertainty in gaze direction.....[ More ]

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About 50 years ago Russian psychologist Alfred L. Yarbus tracked the eye movements of volunteers as they viewed photographs of human faces, and found that the eyes of the portraits were a primary area of interest for most observers.....[ More ]

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