3 Visual Illusions That Reveal The Hidden Workings Of The Brain

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Visual illusions show us that we do not always have a steady grip on reality. It can also serve as a stark reminder that we derive meanings from our observations through our own sense of reality. We frequently infer our understanding of things from our set of personal experiences.

Undeniably, the basis of visual illusions comes from the process happening inside our minds. Instead of delivering the message as our eyes see it, the brain attempts to analyze what is actually there. When the shapes and objects within the visual illusion turn out to be obscure, the brain takes mental shortcuts. The mind makes an educated guess.

The three visual illusions below demonstrate this occurrence in rather delightful ways.

The Visual Illusions Of Gender

In this illusion by Richard Russell, the skin tone of the face affects how a person determines if the face is female or male. The face seems to be female when the skin tone is made lighter (left image). It appears to be male when the skin tone is made darker (right image).

The secret behind the visual illusion relies on how the change in skin tone affects the face’s contrast. It is said that contrast is on average higher in females than in males.

The Coffer Visual Illusion

Coffer Illusion

When looking into the Coffer Illusion, you may see a line of sunken rectangular door panels at first. But after a few seconds, your brain will allow you to see 16 circles. This kind of illusion makes use of the fact that our mind is oriented towards determining objects. The pixels found in an image form edges, contours, shapes and ultimately objects.

There is no “right” grouping in a coffer illusion due to its ambiguity. A person may decipher from the image a single set of horizontal lines forming a circle, or an intersection between two rectangles.

Mask of Love

Mask of Love Illusion

In Gianni Sarcone’s Mask of Love, people can see two pictures. They can either get an image of a single face or the faces of two people kissing.

This illusion operates in the same way that a Coffer illusion works. The contours in the pictures can be linked in two various ways. And it depends on how the brain will translate it into that person’s perception.

Kim Ransley, Ph.D. student, School of Psychology, University of Sydney and Alex O. Holcombe, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Sydney