Moving Images: The Science Behind Optical Illusions

Optical Illusion - Wikimedia Commons

Moving Images: The Science Behind Optical Illusions

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One of the most interesting phenomena produced by colors and shapes is that of the optical illusion.

With just a little bit of color contrast and shape positioning interacting with each other, we get this fascinating moving image. An optical illusions is a static image that appears to move as if it were a gif or a video. Some optical illusions are said to be able measure how calm a person is by how much or how little the image appears to move, according to the observer’s perception.

Scientists are still figuring out how our eyes and brain work together to demonstrate this appearance of movement.

One theory is that our retinas’ receptors are activated by the color white, and deactivated by the color black. Hence having black and white colors contrasting in close proximity to one another, forming certain patterns, they appear to flicker; which our brain interprets as motion.

Ming-Te Chi, a researcher at National Chengchi University, analyzed various moving images in 2008 to determine why observers perceive movement in the still images.

Chi and his team of researchers found that the arrangements of colors formed in small repeating imperfect patterns could play a role.

Certain combinations of these asymmetric patterns seem to create the perception of movement in a particular direction. This illusion is more pronounced if a pattern that appears to flow to the right is placed next to one that appears to flow to the left.

Chi also concluded that specific color combos and high-contrasting colors make the illusion more apparent.

Observe some of these optical illusions below.

Optical Illusion - Wikimedia Commons
Optical Illusion - Wikimedia Commons 2
Optical Illusion - Jon Ross
Optical Illusion - Wikimedia Commons
Optical Illusion - Image Editor
Optical Illusion - Darren Walton