Do you enjoy deciphering optical illusions and other visual puzzles when surfing the web? If this is the case, try this: gaze at the image for a few seconds. Do you notice that the centre black hole widens after a few seconds of staring at the image?
If that’s the case, your reaction to the image is quite normal. According to a new study published on May 30, 2022, in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, this ‘expanding hole’ optical illusion had the same effect on 86% of people.
What do you see in this Optical Illusion?
According to Dr Bruno Laeng, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo and the study’s lead author, the ‘expanding hole’ is a highly dynamic illusion: the circular smear or shadow gradient of the central black hole evokes a distinct impression of optical flow as if the observer were heading towards a hole or a tunnel.
This illusion, far from being easy, is of genuine scientific relevance. It could be utilised to gain a better understanding of the complicated processes that our visual system employs to anticipate and interpret the visual world. Furthermore, this optical illusion is so convincing that it causes our pupils to dilate as if we were standing in a dark environment.
Here’s how the experiment was carried out
The experiment was carried out on a panel of volunteers who were shown several colour versions of the image. The illusion appeared more effective when the hole was dark, according to the researchers.
Furthermore, when the phenomena were well seen, these black holes favoured larger reflex dilations of the participants’ pupils. Dr Laeng stated: “Based on the new illusion of the ‘growing hole,’ we show that the pupil reacts to how we perceive light – even if this ‘light’ is fictional, as in the illusion – rather than just the amount of light energy that enters the eye.”
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