Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Optical illusions show vision in a new light

Date:
March 15, 2011
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Optical illusions have fascinated humans throughout history. Greek builders used an optical illusion to ensure that that their columns appeared straight (they built them with a bulge) and we are all intrigued by the mental flip involved in the case of the young girl/old woman faces. New research demonstrates a more serious use of these illusions in understanding how the brain assesses relative size.

Greek columns of Propylaea Gate, the entrance to the Parthenon on Acropolis Hill in Athens.
Credit: iStockphoto/Aleksandar Nakic

Optical illusions have fascinated humans throughout history. Greek builders used an optical illusion to ensure that that their columns appeared straight (they built them with a bulge) and we are all intrigued by the mental flip involved in the case of the young girl/old woman faces.

New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Neuroscience demonstrates a more serious use of these illusions in understanding how the brain assesses relative size.

Researchers from University College London looked at two well known illusions: the Ebbinghaus illusion, where an object surrounded by small circles appears bigger than the same object surrounded by bigger circles, and the Ponzo illusion, where an object within converging lines (like train tracks or a corridor) is perceived to be larger than a same sized object nearer to the observer.

Their results show that the Ponzo illusion holds true regardless of which eye is used or whether the environmental clues are presented to a different eye than the objects. This suggests that our clues about relative size at a distance are determined after the two-dimensional images seen by the eyes have been processed into a single, three-dimensional, image. In contrast the Ebbinghaus illusion does not work as well if the central object is presented to a different eye than the surrounding circles and shows that determination of an object's size relative to others in the same plane occurs before three-dimension processing.

Chen Song said, "Although our perception of size is distorted by environmental clues, this study shows that the extent of distortion and the brain mechanisms involved are dependent on the type of environmental contexts."

So while celebrity illusionists retain their ability to fool us, scientists can use these visual tricks to further our understanding of how we relate to the world around us -- and have some fun at the same time.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chen Song, D. Samuel Schwarzkopf and Geraint Rees. Interocular induction of illusory size perception. BMC Neuroscience, (in press) DOI: 10.1186/1471-2202-12-27

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Optical illusions show vision in a new light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311122117.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2011, March 15). Optical illusions show vision in a new light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311122117.htm
BioMed Central. "Optical illusions show vision in a new light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311122117.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins