Are you captivated by illusions? I’m not talking about the magician’s tricks, although they are based on the same principle, but those illusions that show items can be the same size but perceived by your brain to be different, or where a room appears to shrink as you see it from back to front. Your brain processes information in different ways, but the retinas in our eyes only sees things in two-dimension.

We often get emails from friends with interesting illusions — where you look at a picture one way and see one thing, and then look at it and see another. Not everyone is able to find the difference. Many people, with perfectly normal vision, don’t see what they are supposed to, and there is no current reason known as to why. Vision research is a science,

I found an amazing site — Mind Lab, that shows you a series of illusions and explains how your eyes and brain unconsciously processes information that you actually see, and that it can process it in different ways. The term “visual” illusion is more appropriate than “optical” illusion because most effects have their basis in visual pathways and not from the optics of the eye. Optical illusions sound like our eyes are being tricked, when they actually are adapting to changes in vision, and these adaptations are hard-wired into our brains.

“Illusions of the senses tell us the truth about perception”- Teuber, 1960

Everyone has a blind spot, and your brain automatically compensates for it. The brain sees still frames and fills in the gaps to create continuous movement. Look at the illusions below for example:

You can see this picture as a photo of two elderly people facing each other, or you can see a chalice, or two people, one with a guitar, and a Tuscan scene.

Each of our eyes has a region in which there are no receptors (rods or cones). This region is where the retinal ganglia exit the eye as the optic nerve. Our visual experiences do not typically include an awareness of the blind spots that result from the absence of rod and cone receptors in this region.

The two necessary components to view an illusion: the eye, and our perception of our eye’s signals as processed by our brains. We only are able to “see” what our brain interprets. Our eyes don’t send images to our brains, but rather images are constructed in our brains based on simple signals sent from the eyes. It is a complex, higher-order brain function, and a very large percentage of our brains are required to do nothing more than recognize what is in front of us.

Our brains form images based on pattern recognition. We see lines and motion, not images. Our brains interpret that as an attempt to recognize what the lines and motions represent.

I am Ron White, and I am a two-time USA Memory Champion. It was quite interesting to learn about how our brains, and not our eyes “see” what goes on around us, and why illusions are perceived differently by different individuals.



JST Virtual Science Center — Mind Lab:

92 Visual Phenemona and Optical Illusions: – How We See: