Optical Illusions: How Do They Work?

Optical Illusions: How Do They Work?

Optical Illusions: How Do They Work?

Many of us believe we are in perfect control of what our minds believe.  But what happens when your mind is unable to determine what is impossible?    Imagine what would happen if your mind suddenly overrides your conviction that something is false…

Well, that is exactly how the mind perceives optical illusions!  So just how do these intriguing illusions work?  Your brain is constantly interpreting everything you see, feel and hear.  You rely on your mind for everything you do in your life from complex decision making and logic to the simplest tasks such as eating with a spoon.  We take its incredible abilities for granted.

Take for instance, this building.  It looks as though water is cascading down its side when actually it painted.  So how are we fooled?  Well, it’s because we learn to process certain images automatically.

All through our lives, our minds learn to recognize and automatically process images.  For instance, young children learn to distinguish unique features in individual faces.  This is what is called hard wiring the brain.  However, optical illusions defy this hard wiring of logic, creating numerous camouflage, ambiguous, and flip flop illusions.  No matter what type the illusion may be, it relies on the mind struggling with image overcoming logic patterns ingrained in our thought process.

Normally, this process occurs without a hitch, but optical illusions are images that are presented in such a way that deprives our minds eye of enough information to prevent it from processing the information correctly.  In the case of the the picture above, we see the shape of a spider, and assume it is emerging from the building.

These lovely interior wall paintings are a fine example of how optical illusions can be used in interior decorating.

The painting above lends a pleasant garden feeling to a dining room…….

The meaning of this image flip flops between a skull and a couple sitting at a table.  This 1920′s  French postcard image titled “L’Amour de Peirrot” was a popular motif throughout the 20th century and inspired such artists as surrealist Salvador Dali.  The artist who created the image, ironically, is unknown.

A scene’s context and what you expect to happen can dramatically influence your perception in many fundamental ways.  Over the years, there have been many studies demonstrating how a person’s perception of an event can be dynamically controlled through priming and context.

Priming is suggestion that influences judgements and in fact, the entire marketing industry relies on this type of influence in their advertising.  Although scientists can describe the different types of perceptual priming, there is still no real understanding on any level of why these perceptions occur.

Architecture has its share of illusions as well.  In fact illusions have been used in architecture thousands of years and an example of that can be seen in the Parthenon.  Ironically, that majestic tribute to ancient Greek culture contains virtually no straight lines in its design.

There are seven eagles in this painting, can you find them all?  As in this type of an illusion, the images are hard to see at first, but after your mind’s eye sees them, the brain reorganizes the information so you are able to see them more easily in the future.

Imagine trying to dance on this floor…or walk while tipsy……

Of course, with the advent of the technological age, the venues for our human expression have multiplied.  Here are examples of new ways we have discovered to play these delightfully visual pranks on each others minds….


Hot wheels?

This image makes you wonder which way he is really going.

Talk aboout Pepsi light!

Sidewalk Art Illusion

The street art shown above is by Julian Beever and as you can see, it fills the entire street!

It is so hard to believe this was created using CHALK!!!

Body Art

Wild image….

The hand is easy to see, but the mind ignores it and focuses on the painted image.

This is painted on the back of a hand!

This Russian body art is amazing!!

Whatever the reason, optical illusions will continue to amaze and fascinate us as well as make us wonder just how they really do manage to fool us.

Written by BrenParks

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