How 10 Cool Optical Illusions Work

Visual illusions are deceptive. Image organization, color effects, light source effects, and other factors can cause many false visual effects.

If you've struggled to see the concealed image in a single-image stereogram, you may have found that optical illusions affect people differently. In some illusions, some people cannot see it.

We see things that aren't there, like the Hermann Grid illusion. Notice how the center dots of each intersection change from white to gray? This optical illusion has various hypotheses about why it happens.


The Hermann Grid Optical Illusion 

A few years ago, blogs and websites promoted the illusion as a test for "left-brained or right-brained." Our brains try to create space around the spinning image, creating the illusion.


The Spinning Dancer Optical Illusion 

Would you be shocked if the two people on the left are the same size?6 The Ames chamber illusion is used in The Lord of the Rings. Trapezoidal room shape creates the Ames room illusion. Viewers see it as a square room, distorting its size. The small figure is standing farther away than the large figure.


The Ames Room Optical Illusion 

Objects appear closer as you move away. As a road or train goes away, its borders appear to converge.


The Ponzo Optical Illusion 

Like the Zollner illusion, an image's background can affect how your brain understands it. If you stare at this illusion too long, you may feel queasy! Shorter lines may angle differently than long lines. The brain perceives depth when none exists.


The Zollner Optical Illusion 

The Kanizsa triangle is an optical illusion that shows a triangle that does not exist. Brains fill in gaps to perceive a more complete whole.


The Kanizsa Triangle Optical Illusion 

This old deception still fools many. Which line stretches farther? Actually, both lines are the same length. This is the Muller-Lyer Illusion. Several theories have been given for its operation.


The Muller-Lyer Optical Illusion 

The moon illusion, in which the moon seems larger on the horizon than higher up, is well-known among night sky watchers. This happens why? Although several hypotheses exist, none are universally accepted.15 The moon's relationship to foreground figures affects distance judgments.


The Moon Optical Illusion 

In the lilac chaser illusion, many visual phenomena appear throughout 30 seconds. The illusion was first described in 200516 and is generated by negative afterimages and Troxler fading.


The Lilac Chaser Optical Illusion 

Negative afterimages can create surprising visual illusions like the negative photo illusion. The negative photo illusion involves your brain and visual system turning a negative image into a full-color photo.


The Negative Photo Optical Illusion 

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