Can you see the circles in the above image? Try focusing on the vertical lines rather than the horizontal. See them now? The brain is a fascinating mechanism. Human cognition is a complicated concept to understand, but psychologists and other researchers have used tools such as these interesting optical illusions to try and understand how we understand things.
Your brain takes all kinds of mental shortcuts in order to understand the world and process information. For example, consider the classic image of an alien: a little grey man with giant black eyes and a large head. Cognitive scientists have theorized that our image of an alien is actually constructed from our built-in capacity to recognize faces.
If you look closely at some of these interesting optical illusions, you will start to understand how your brain plays tricks on you and takes all kinds of mental shortcuts. Sometimes it has to process information quickly, sometimes it fills in gaps in understanding, and sometimes it just tries to find a pattern that isn’t there.
1. This image is constantly moving, right? Wrong! The illusion of movement is created by minute motions that your eyes make as you try to focus on different parts of the image.
2. If you stare at the center of this grid, the image will appear to “repair” itself. This is a result of your brain filling in the gaps of your limited peripheral vision.
3. Some interesting optical illusions have existed for centuries. Take this ancient Roman grid, for example. Depending on your perspective, the pattern slants to the left or to the right.
4. This illusion is known as the Hermann grid. Gray dots will appear in the intersections of white lines but disappear when you look directly at them.
5. Are the lines between the blocks crooked or straight? Despite appearances, they are actually straight. Human cognition can be tricky, as sometimes our brains want to perceive something different from reality.
6. One of the main ways your brain plays tricks on you is through measuring size or distance. Is one of these center circles bigger? Not at all. They are the same size.
7. One of the mental shortcuts our brains take is seeing faces wherever it can. Take this church for example. The architecture creates a bird-like face that is impossible to not notice.
8. This is one of the most recognizable out of all these interesting optical illusions. Square A and square B are actually the same color. We perceive them as different due to the contrast in the checkerboard pattern.
9. This is another case of human cognition creating mental shortcuts. In this illusion you can see a vase or two faces in profile. Our brains are likely to see the faces immediately because of our tendency for facial recognition.
10. One of the most interesting optical illusions is the impossible shape. The most popular is probably the Penrose triangle, which is hard for us to perceive as it is totally illogical.
11. This illusion known as the Kanisza Triangle illustrates perfectly how our brains take mental shortcuts. Though there are no triangles in this image, our brain still allows us to “see” two.
12. If you stare at this image for 30 seconds then look at a blank wall, you will see the face of Jesus Christ. This is because of delayed photochemical activity in the retina.