Optical Illusions: What They Are And How They Are Used By Experts

By  | 

Optical illusions are visual illusions involving deception due to the arrangement of images, effects of colours, the impact of light sources, and other range of misleading visual effects. Not everyone experiences visual illusions in the same way, as some people are not able to see the full effects at all; one image could have multiple hidden illusions, and it can be difficult to see a few, let alone all. While optical illusions can be interesting, they are greatly used by experts and can reveal a lot about the working brain, so read on to find out more about this.

There are three main types of optical illusions, they are:

  • Literal Optical Illusions
  • Physiological Optical Illusions
  • Cognitive Illusions

Literal Optical Illusions “are created when our eyes perceive an image and our mind fills in gaps that don’t actually exist creating an image that’s different from the object that makes them, or focuses on specific areas of the image resulting in us ‘seeing’ something that isn’t actually there. In the example here, since our eyes uses the edges of objects to distinguish what that object is, we see that the elephant has a multitude of legs. This also occurs when our brain creates images of faces in the clouds, or in everyday objects.”

Physiological Optical Illusions “are caused when we have an excessive amount of stimuli for a certain period of time (brightness, colour, flashes etc.) and the affect it has on our brain or eyes. So take a look at the image below for a minute, and then take a look at the blank space while blinking. Due to our eyes exposure to the image, the retinal photoreceptor cells continue to send neural impulses to our brain even after we’ve stopped looking at the image, resulting in the after image.”

Cognitive Illusions “are caused by ‘unconscious inferences’ that our brain makes when looking at certain objects. [This is] Different from literal illusions as the inferences we make aren’t actually there within the image itself. One of the most common cognitive illusions is Kanizsa’s Triangle, in which we see a bright white triangle when there actually isn’t one there. This is due to the contrast in colours and the angles of the Pac Man disks, leading our mind to create the white triangle in the middle.”

Check out some famous optical illusions HERE and HERE!