How the Eyes Can Trick Your Mind


When we look at objects or scenes, our eyes glance and our brains are notorious for jumping to conclusions. The first stage of perception begins when light bounces off an object in sight. The cornea allows the rays to enter the eyes where it bends or refracts the light through the pupil. The colored iris either contracts or expands to adjust the amount of light that passes through.

When the rays finally enter through the lens to the retina, the light is converted into electrical signals that get sent to the brain for interpretation. This process takes a mere for a second, but that is enough to confuse the brain at times.

How Your Eyes Trick Your Mind

By strategically placing a series of colors, images or patterns, or arranging light in various ways, you can trick your brain into seeing an optical illusion. Perception can be altered by what is familiar, recognizable objects nearby.

For example, when you are in motion and viewing something, the image appears blurry. This is because our minds associate fuzzy lines with movement, static pictures that feature blurriness tend to give the illusion of fast motion.

The Ebbinghaus illusion

When two adjacent circles are the same size, with one framed by larger circles and the second surrounded by smaller ones, the shape of the larger spheres will appear to be smaller than the second. These images are called Titchener circles, or the Ebbinghaus illusion. This demonstrates how our eyes mess with the brain’s perception.

Johannes Stotter creates extraordinary optical illusions that appear to be nature photographs but are paintings. One of most shocking works appears to be a colorful bird perched on a tree stump. In reality, it is a woman skillfully covered in body paint.

Although Stotter’s art is technically not an optical illusion, it uses some of the same principles.

Paint is used to soften the model’s harsh body lines and aligning light and dark hues create the necessary shadows. The model is also able to contort her body in a way that mimics the contours of a parrot. Her leg is bent like a wing and she uses her white-painted hand to form the beak. When the eyes skim the image the brain’s perception is a colorful bird.

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