How Your Brain Interprets These Optical Illusions Will Determine If You Are Funny Or Wise

There are two straight lines that are similar. Isn’t it a little dull? But what happens if you change what’s going on in their environment? The lines seem to have changed size in comparison to one another; they could shrink and grow; they could change colours; they could stretch and compress; and they could bend, buckle, or even change directions. However, while it can appear that the lines themselves are bending or buckling, the only thing that is actually bending or buckling is your mind, which is the most fascinating aspect of optical illusions.

When you look at something, what you’re actually seeing is the light that reflected off of it and reached your eye, and then transforms the light into electrical impulses that your brain can interpret as an image. The process takes about a tenth of a second, but your eyes are bombarded with a steady stream of light and an enormous amount of data, making it impossible for your brain to concentrate on all at once. Taking a drink of water from a firehose would be like attempting to take a sip of water from a fire hose. So, to compensate for your brain’s tenth-of-a-second processing lag, your brain takes shortcuts, simplifying what you see to help you focus on what’s essential. This ability assisted early humans in surviving encounters with fast predators – or, at the very least, avoiding crashing into obstacles such as trees.

Optical illusions take advantage of these types of shortcuts to deceive our minds.

Take, for example, the Hering illusion. When a bike-spokes radial pattern is placed behind two parallel, straight horizontal lines, the lines appear bent, despite the fact that they are perfectly straight. When your brain notices the radial pattern, it concentrates on the central point, as if you’re approaching it. Since your brain believes the two parallel lines are approaching you, it enlarges them when they reach the radial pattern’s base, making the lines appear bent.

Not all optical illusions fool our minds into thinking we’re seeing motion. Some might even trick our minds into seeing colours or shades that aren’t really there. Take, for example, the Mach bands illusion, which is depicted in the image below. While a given band appears to be lighter on top and darker on the bottom, separating the bands reveals that each band is a solid colour. The illusory gradient is caused by a mechanism known as lateral inhibition, which is mediated by rods, which are light-sensitive cells in our eyes.

Another type of eye cell gathers information about light and dark values from a variety of photoreceptors, but it has a way of “leaking” this light information to neighbouring cells, resulting in a visible halo while viewing such high-contrast images. The effect can be seen in the Hermann grid, a well-known illusion in which grey circles appear at the intersection points of each square.

What about those optical illusions that make a still picture appear to move? A mind-blowing brain fart is the psychedelic peripheral drift illusion. Take a look at the figure’s base. It appears to be nothing more than a cool pattern. When you look outside of it, though, it begins to roll. This is partly due to our perception of light and dark.

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    Which circle is the largest?

    • The right-hand one
    • The left-hand one
    • They’re exactly the same size!
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    What’s the total number of legs you see?

    • 4
    • 5
    • 8
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    What colour are the circles in the background?

    • Yellow, pink, and blue.
    • Pink
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    Who is the person in this photograph?

    • Ben Stiller
    • Beyonce
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    Which of these windows is the largest?

    • The right-hand one
    • The left-hand one
    • They’re both about the same height.

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