Are the dots moving or not, is the picture black or white or in color, are these objects even possible? What was your opinion on “the dress”? Did you perceive it as black and blue or white and gold?

Have your eyes ever deceived you? No, not the “I-cannot-believe-what-he-is-doing”, but more in the “rub-your-eyes-and-take-a-second-look”-way, when not only your eyes but actually your mind is tricked by an optical illusion. They can be quite confusing or even mind-blowing, but most of the time optical illusions are fully fascinating and therefor quite entertaining.

Mesmerize the mind

Throughout history optical illusions fascinated mankind. An optical illusion is caused by the visual system when a perceived image differs from the object in reality. This can be caused by color, light or patterns that trick our minds, which are constantly trying to figure out the world around us by making all kinds of assumptions about it. The brain interprets what the eyes see, and that is why most optical illusions tap into the basics of how our eyes and brains process visual information presented to them. While looking at an optical illusion the interpretations contradict the physical measurement of the source image.

Eyes or brain? Who wants to be spoofed?

Since, eventually, the brain determines what we really see that is what optical illusion use for their advantage to confuse and distract our visual senses. The use of the blind spot works really well in optical illusions. Where our nerves and blood vessels connect to our eyes there are no cells to process any seeing. So if you e.g.: close one eye and look at an object which is located in your blind spot, it will magically disappear. Also our peripheral vision works well in favour of optical illusions thus details may be left out due to our brain filling in details which, in reality, do not exist. Memory and expectations also trick our brain to make assumptions which leads to mental filtering. That is why we are able to understand a sentence containing repeated, wrong or scrambled words. Our brain also falls for these illusions because it wants to process information as quick as possible to shorten our response time and guarantee a quick reaction to any situation.

Types of tricks

There are basically three different types of optical illusions that lead to misinterpretations of what we “see”.

  • We speak of literal illusions when images are made up that vary from the objects that form them. Cognitive illusions create an unconscious interference with the interaction of one’s beliefs and assumptions. These are further distinguished in: geometrical-optical, ambiguous, fiction and paradox.
1503326015535
  • Cognitive illusions create an unconscious interference with the interaction of one’s beliefs and assumptions. These are further distinguished in: geometrical-optical, ambiguous, fiction and paradox.
1503326153985
  • Physiological illusions excessively stimulate the brain and thus affect the perceived picture.
1503326180078

So next time you are blaming your eyes for tricking you, make sure your brain takes a large part of that blame, because to a very large extent it is our brain that is responsible for how we perceive our surroundings.

Things are not always as they appear, or are they?

Challenge your visual thinking skills, with these games here.