Lose Your Illusions
Scientists in Scotland from the University of Glasgow are working to figure out how the brain deciphers visual stimulus, and why many times we view different "optical illusions" from the same visual source.
Participants stared at various paintings by artist Salvador Dali, known for hiding visual illusions within his paintings, while being hooked up to brain-mapping equipment. What scientists found was interesting. Subjects took in the visual information, broke it down into smaller "brainwave" pieces, and their brains were only interpreting one set of brainwaves one at a time.
For example, when shown Dali's "Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire," they either saw the two nuns in the center of the painting OR the bust of Voltaire. The brain was unable to clearly view both images simultaneously.
"In ambiguous paintings, people will see two possible interpretations of a painting but they will not see both at once," Dr. Phillipe Schynes reported. He goes on to say:
"The brainwaves associated with one part of a painting may be slow, while another part may be fast. Although both sets of waves are created at the same time, the brain is only sensitive to one at a time, so it has to switch between them in order to see each, but cannot see both at once."
If you ever look at an image with hidden images (like those stupid prints that you had to stare at until you went cross-eyed) the brain has no problem picking out that illusion once it detects it. Some people SWEAR to never be able to see those hidden 3-D images, yet others have no problem seeing them.
It's an interesting finding, and I have several other optical illusions for you to try out:
The Herman grid. Do you see those little dark blobs in the corner of the black squares? Your brain is really "placing" those dark blobs where they actually do not exist in the picture.
Rubin's vase. Do you see the black faces? Or the white vase. Your brain is going to switch back and forth...but it can't clearly view both images at once. Don't try it, or you'll get a migraine like I did.
Kanisza triangle. You see that white triangle in the middle? Here, your mind is actually constructing an object that isn't really there. Those little circles look like tiny Pac-Mans.
Rosie O'Donnell. Do you see the "Queen of Nice" or a big fat bitch? It all depends on your mind's perspective.