Optical illusions can be fun and fascinating, but they can also tell us a great deal of information about how the brain and perceptual system function. There are countless optical illusions out there, but here is a sampling of some of the most fun and interesting.
Sometimes we see things that aren't really there, and the Hermann Grid illusion is a great example of this. Notice how the dots at the center of each intersection seem to shift between white and gray? Like many optical illusions, different theories have been proposed to explain exactly why this happens.
The popular illusion made the rounds on blogs and websites a few years ago, supposedly as a test to determine if you are "left-brained or right-brained." In reality, the illusion occurs because our brains must attempt to construct space around the spinning figure.
When you look off into the distance, objects seem closer together as they become further away. For example, the outside borders of a road or railroad appear to converge as they recede into the distance. The Ponzo illusion involves placing two lines over an illustration of a railroad track. Which line is longer? In reality, they are exactly the same length. Learn more about how this fascinating illusion works
According to the Gestalt law of closure, we tend to see objects that are close together as a related group. In the case of the Kanizsa Triangle, we even see contour lines that don't exist and ignore gaps in order to form a cohesive image.
If you've ever spent any time gazing up at the night sky, then you've probably noticed the moon illusion, in which the moon looks bigger on the horizon than it does higher up in the sky. Why does this happen? Many theories have been proposed, although there is no universally agreed upon explanation. Learn more about how the moon illusion works and some of the possible theories that have been suggested.
In the lilac chaser illusion, the viewer observes several different visual effects over the span of about 30 seconds. First described in 2005, the illusion is caused by a number of different factors including negative afterimages and what is known as Troxler fading. Check out the illusion yourself and learn more about how the lilac illusion works.