Despite some preconceived misgivings, scientific research can be very fun. That rings especially true for those participating in research involving engaging puzzles and colorful illusions. Though, in the case of optical illusions, some participants could end up understandably scratching their head.
Last year’s annual optical illusion contest hosted by the Neural Correlate Society definitely produced images with that side effect. The top illusion, known as the Dual Axis, confounds the mind as one change in focus completely alters how viewers perceive the video. Learn more about the event and research below.
The Dual Axis is the latest best optical illusion
Each year, the Neural Correlate Society runs a competition of sorts to find the best optical illusion. The video from last year’s winner went live on December 9, 2019, so currently, this year’s isn’t up yet. But 2019’s winner, the Dual Axis, earned enough revere to still remain astounding – and bemusing – to viewers today.
Having 2020 vision doesn’t make this optical illusion any less difficult to navigate. The video’s imagery is simple. A series of crisscrossing curved lines rotate around. Things appear simple enough at first. But text at the top posits the question: “which axis is this shape rotating around?” Depending on where the viewer looks, the answer seems clear. But then the text proposes the X or Y axis and colored bars appear along each. Then, the video really changes how the viewer perceives the rotation by highlighting intersecting points: first, two sets moving left and right, then two more pairs moving up and down.
Unraveling the mystery
The Neural Correlate Society is a nonprofit that helps propel cognitive and perception research. Optical illusions can offer a fascinating insight into both these areas because they, by their very nature, rely on both working in chaotic harmony. When the eyes take in a sight, they travel up to the brain for processing. Deception rhymes with perception and ultimately an optical illusion deceives our brain by hitting our eyes with deceptive images it must send up for interpretation. The brain takes these images and tries to make quick sense of the senseless, find truth in the impossible.