Useful instead of true – understanding our brains through optical illusions


Can you trust what you see? Everyday we make decisions based on visual input that our brain receives and processes. However, sometimes the gathered and processed information results in visual/optical illusions, which are perceptions that are not in accordance with the physical properties of the objects.

 

Surely you have encountered them, famous illusions such as the recent dress color illusion, checker shadow illusion, rabbit duck illusion, Ebbinghaus illusion and many more. Do they fool your senses?

Illusions are often used in art, eg. by the “invisible” artist Liu Bolin, surrealist artist Salvador Dali or the illustrator Tang Yau Hoong. But they can also have practical applications and be a part of everyday life. Why do certain swimsuits make your legs look longer? Can the plate size affect your portion size? Can a goalkeeper increase his/her chances of saving a penalty kick through visual illusions?

 

To attempt to better understand how the brain works and why our vision gets puzzled by illusions, neuroscientist Beau Lotto utilizes interactive art-science experiments and studies the human and bumblebee perception and behavior.

Beau Lotto explains that the way we perceive the world is not how it really is, but how it has been most useful in the past. Watch his TED talk to learn more about optical illusions and how we see.

 

Header mage credits to Shutterstock
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About Monika Abramczuk

Monika studied biotechnology and molecular biology. When not engaged in research, she likes to read spy thrillers, drink tea, bake and travel.

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