Wednesday, 10 May 2017 03:00

21 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks


What you think is reality is a lie. And we have the proof.

Back in 2015, the nation—nay THE WORLD—came together to furiously debate an issue that would have—until very recently—been considered completely absurd: What color is this dress?

Is it blue and black or white and gold? To me, it's obviously blue and black. But apparently, only about half the internet agrees with me. Weirdos.

Well, as it turns out even scientists are also somewhat befuddled about what exactly is going on there. But what this controversy did is shed some light on a fundamental truth: Your brain sucks. All our brains suck. Or let me put it another way: Our brains are actually really amazing, but they're not nearly as infallible as we like to think they are.


Our brains filter a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as "reality." And they do all this in damn-near real time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here's the thing: a big chunk of what we consider "reality" actually consists of our brains making guestimates.

We know this because researchers have devised ways to consistently fool our brains into seeing things they're not really seeing—even when our brains know that's not what they're seeing. These little reality busters are known as "optical illusions."

Just think about the last movie or TV show you watched. As much as you might have been affected by the story, you weren't really watching those events taking place. Your gullible brain was presented with a rapid series of static images, which fooled it into thinking it was watching an event. This little trick is known as "the phi phenomenon."

We don't think of TV as an illusion, but that's just because it's common. But the truth of the matter is it's just Hollywood taking advantage of our easily tricked skull mush.

While our brains are complex, beautiful machines that help us maneuver fairly successfully through a big complicated world, they are far from perfect. Check out these 22 optical illusions that prove just how much our brains really, truly suck sometimes.

NOTE: Some videos in this feature offer A LOT of stimuli and probably should not be clicked on by those known to suffer from epilepsy or similar conditions.

1- Imaginary Colors



Hit play above and then stare at the screen (apologies for the magic show soundtrack music; it's not part of the illusion). The image will change along the way and your brain will add an interesting temporary effect. (Toggle backwards to confirm reality.) 

This is an example of an afterimage—when the eyes' receptors are so stimulated that they still tingle after the fact. In this case, they overcompensate with complementary colors (i.e. the solid, vivid white turns black; the orange turns blue; and the blue turns fleshy).

2- When You Don't Know How to See a Roof

Watch the above video. Not only does your mind misinterpret what it sees in the foreground, it doesn't seem to understand what's going on in the mirror image in the background. Your brain just got doubled p0wned. This misunderstanding takes place because 1) the brain can't accurately render depth from a single vantage point (i.e. a video) and 2) the brain likes to "see" right angles (the kind that would occur should the curve of the roof continue—it would meet a plane perpendicular to the axis of the roof). (Source)

3- When a Circle Isn't a Circle

The above circle is just a series of dots rotating within a larger circle, right? What could be more obvious? Oh… I guess just watch the video to see how your brain failed once again.


4- Motion Without Motion

Stare at this image and you'll see how the flickering circles in your periphery appear to be moving even though they are absolutely stationary (try staring at just one and you'll see). This illusion is attributed to the Cornsweet effect, which is what happens when the brain fills in information based on slight changes in gradient. (Source)


5- Your Mind Can (Consciously) Play Tricks on Itself

Your brain is a powerful thing, but it can be tricked—sometimes quite easily. And here's one other weird wrinkle: it can consciously trick itself. The above is a prime example of something called pareidolia, whereas the brain perceives a familiar pattern where there is none. 

In the case of the video above, the mind perceives movement where none actually existed—it's just random static. But, as you see, the mind can control the direction of the apparent movement just by thinking "left, right" or "up, down." (Source)

Moving Pictures

6- Moving Pictures


This image is not animated. Don't believe me? Try staring at just one part of the image and you'll see it will stop moving. This is an example of a "peripheral drift illusion." It is thought that this illusion occurs because of the slight differences in time it takes to process different luminances (how intense the light is from a particular area). This slight lag in mental processing tricks the brain into perceiving movement that isn't really there. (Image)

7- You Don't Know Your Colors

Stare at the black cross in the middle of this graphic. Soon you'll begin to see a green dot moving around the perimeter. Eventually, all the pinkish dots disappear, leaving a lonely solo green dot traveling along the edge. But it's all a lie. There is no green dot and the pink dots never really disappear. 

This is known as the "lilac chaser illusion." It's a combination of several physiological phenomena including 1) the previously mentioned "phi phenomenon" in which we perceive continuous motion between separate objects viewed rapidly in succession (used in development of early cinema); 2) afterimages in which overstimulation of specific cones in the eye can "tire" them out while surrounding cones not affected by that particular stimulation will send the brain the complete opposite stimuli (in this case, green); and 3) the fact that our brains tend to ignore blurry stimuli that are in the periphery of our vision, a phenomenon called "Troxler's fading." (Source)

How Many Black Dots Can You Count?

8- How Many Black Dots Can You Count?

The answer is none. Despite what your eyes are telling you, there are no black dots. There are only white dots that appear to darken in the periphery of your vision. This is an example of a "scintillating grid illusion" (yes, the actual name). 


While scientists have various theories, there is actually no consensus on why this illusion works, other than our brains are all stupid sometimes. (Image)

Are These Lines Parallel?

9- Are These Lines Parallel?

Despite what your eyes are telling you, they are. It is thought that the "café wall illusion" functions due to the high contrast in the two different "bricks." When interpreting images, our brains tend to "spread" dark zones into light zones, a function known as irradiation; this "movement" is probably what causes a false warping effect. (Image)

Which Line Is Bigger?

10- Which Line Is Bigger?

They're both exactly the same, ya knucklehead! (If your brain can't properly discern the length of these lines, surely it can discern the counterintuitive pattern of this slideshow). 

This is an example of the "Ponzo illusion." This little trick takes advantage of the human brain's use of background to judge an object's size. (Image)

Which Orange Circle is Bigger?

11- Which Orange Circle is Bigger?

Yep, your brain sucks again. The orange circles are exactly the same. This is known at the "Ebbinghaus illusion" (or sometimes Titchener circles). It is theorized that the two main visual contributors to this illusion are the difference in the distance between the outer ring and inner circles as well as the completeness of the ring surrounding the "smaller" circle. (Image)

12- Ebbinghaus in Motion

Here's an animation showing the illusion functioning in real time.

Bulge Effect

13- Bulge Effect

Here's an illusion utilizing the "dynamic luminance-gradient effect," and it requires your participation. Move closer to the screen and you'll see the white shade in the middle explode in luminance. (Image)

See Those Pale Shades in the Background?

14- See Those Pale Shades in the Background?

No you don't. That's more brain lies. There are no shades in this image, only lines. This is known as "the watercolor illusion." This is what happens when a polygon has a border made of a bright line, bordered by a darker line of a complementary color: your brain is tricked into "filling in" the shape with the brighter color. (Image)

When a Spiral Isn't a Spiral

15- When a Spiral Isn't a Spiral

What a good-looking spiral, amirght? I guess nothing more to discuss here… unless… no, wait a minute. Run your finger along the spiral and see if you can run the length of it. Something seems off here.

This is the "Fraser spiral illusion." Despite what your eyes tell you, the spiral is actually a series of concentric circles. The background pattern makes the picture so confusing that your brain just fills in information that isn't really there. (Image)

16- Motion in Non-Motion

Here you find a series of slits roving across an illustration, thus allowing only small bits of information at a time. Our brain then fills in the gaps of different stages and recreates the experience of viewing fluid movement. If you're feeling dumb and disappointed in the power of the human brain, don't—as you can see, the cat in this video was also fooled.

Colors That Aren't Colors

17- Colors That Aren't Colors

At first glance, you should see a semi-transparent blue circle overlaying the illustration, but you aren't really. The light blue blotch is the result of an illusion known as "neon color spreading." Similar to the watercolor effect, your brain has been tricked into adding color into the bare negative spaces. (Image)

How Many Legs Does This Elephant Have?

18- How Many Legs Does This Elephant Have?


Stare at it for a bit. You'll figure out what's going on here. This is a form of a "cognitive illusion" in which our assumptions about the world are challenged in a falsified image. (Image)

19- Size Matters

We've seen numerous examples of "afterimages," whereby the brain is prompted to "see" colors that aren't there based on earlier stimuli. However, as the above video shows, the story of after images is even more complex: The brain can be tricked into seeing different colors based on the size of subsequent stimuli. (Source)

20- Dancing Letters

Watch the above video. Think those letters are moving? They're not. You could simply trust me or the maker of the video on this point, or you can verify yourself: Take a straight-edge like a sheet of paper and hold it over the tops of the letters—you'll see that they are perfectly stationary. The changing fill-shade fools the brain into seeing movement that is not occurring. (Source)

21- Warp of Wow

This is one of the most effective illusions I've ever come across. If you concentrate on the center and read the letters as they go along, you will find a swirling vortex of shapes and colors forming around the periphery (but no colors have been added—it's all an illusion). The effect even lasts for a powerful few seconds after you've stopped watching. Whoa.

Coffee Bean Illusion

22- Coffee Bean Illusion

Can you find a man's face hidden among the coffee beans? Trust us, he's in there. 


This isn't really an optical illusion in the tradition sense, as much as it's a tricky (if simple) piece of Photoshop work. If you can find the face in under three seconds, the NIH's website reports (without giving any specifics) that "the right side of your brain may be more developed than most." The right side of the brain being the hemisphere generally associated with art, creativity, and imagination. (Image)

Source : This article was published pcmag.com By EVAN DASHEVSKY


Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.

Follow Us on Social Media