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Doctor, Doctor! What's Wrong With My Eyes?

Thursday, August 14, 2008 4 comments

Our brain has a way of making shortcuts to process information…an auto-pilot, so to speak, that takes care of so many of our tasks, so that we don’t have to stop and think about it, and process how to react. Driving a car for example; when we are first learning to drive, we have to think about just about every move we make; however, once we have learned this skill, we do it on auto-pilot, pretty much. The subconscious mind takes over.

This is why we get ourselves into so many emotional dilemmas. Because as children, in most cases, we experienced something and behaved a certain way, to get our way, and now the brain has stored that memory in it’s neat, tidy, little holding spot on the shelf, and when you experience something similar, rather than to have to stop and process how you should react, it runs and grabs that memory, and uses it for your current behavior. You have no idea what’s happening. It’s all part of our primitive survival instinct. When a bear is charging, you don’t have time to stop and assess the situation, you mind goes on auto-pilot, and you either freeze, or run.

Each one of us sees and experiences everything differently based on our own perceptions and life experiences. Just ask a cop who has spoken to several witnesses of a crime, or accident.

We lie to ourselves in so many different ways, and I have written a couple of articles on this all ready; “We Are All So Bias, Yes You Are”, and “Cognitive Dissonance One of Our Defense Mechanisms.”

But this article is on visual and/or optical illusion, are you really seeing the truth?

If you are interested in knowing all of the ins, outs and whys there is a good book that was written by Matthew Luckiesh in 1922, that you can read online for free.

How we perceive things by our senses and interpret them has a lot to do with our perception, which is influenced by events in our lives and our beliefs and values. We are always trying to interpret what we see in our lives, and make sense of the world around us.

Our mind plays all kinds of tricks on us, which is the case of an optical and/or visual illusion is our mind causing us to see something that may or may not be there. Our mind looks for patterns and shapes. According to the Gestalt Principles of Grouping who’s prominent founders were Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, and Kurt Koffka, our mind tries to organize things into four groups.


Similarity states that the mind will see things that share the same texture, color, size, shape, or value as being grouped together.

Proximity states that even if shapes, sizes and objects are different, we tend to group them together because objects and shapes that a close together appear to us to form groups, as in the image above, we tend to see three columns of two lines, as opposed to six rows. This can be achieved with tone/value, color, shape, size, along with other attributes.

Continuity is our tendency to see patterns that are grouped together if they form a pattern and perceive them as belonging together, and tend to continue shapes beyond their ending points. This also relates to the closure principle.

Closure where the brain recognizes a pattern, even though, in this case, it is not closed, the brain fills in the missing pieces, and we tend to see a complete picture.

Camouflage where something blends into the background due to having the same colors and pattern as its surroundings. Out military uses this illusion. The cat burglars slinking through the night dressed in black.

Perceptual constancy refers to our ability to perceive things differently without having to re-interpret the objects properties. For instance, when you see something at a distance it looks very small, however, as you move closer to it, it appears to get larger. The size, shape and brightness can affect this. Shape for instance is our ability to recognize that an object is round, even though at a certain angle, it will appear differently. As for color, we know that an object is the same color even though under certain lighting conditions, it will appear to be a different color or shade.

Larger objects appear closer.

Textured items appear smoother at a distance and on a similar token, object that appear blurry, appear to be farther away than items that appear to be in focus.

Objects covering other objects appear closer.

The shading of an objects shadow can help to perceive the distance, or at least give us a clue.

Due to our perception of the horizon, things in our lower sphere of vision appear closure, and those in our upper sphere of vision appear farther away.

Artists use these concepts in their artwork to help to create depth and a 3D effect.

In an effort to create harmony in what appears to be disconnected bits and pieces of information, our brain attempts to visually and psychologically make order out of all the chaos.

Can you read this text? If you can, it will explain why.

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr t he ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!



Which way is the silhouette turning? Clockwise or counter clockwise? If you blink, or watch the tip of the toe of her extended foot as it becomes hidden, you can make her turn the opposite direction. Sometimes it is hard to do, but is possible. It appears that most people originally perceive her as moving clockwise originally. The original of this illusion was originally displayed here.

I have set up another post showing many visual illusions for you to have fun with here. So click on over and have fun.

Don’t forget to stop by these other posts, for loads of visual and/or optical illusions..

Faces, Faces, Where Are All The Faces?

Is It My Eyes, Or Is My Mind Playing Tricks On Me?

Visual and/or Optical Illusion Pictures



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