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Puzzillusions
Do you like solving puzzles? Are you intrigued by optical illusions? Have you ever wondered what a mixture of those two would be like?
Dazzling Optical Illusions
Puzzillusions, ISBN 1844420647


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Previous optical Illusion of the Month (April-May 2007)

 
by Gianni A. Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber
 

 

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'What's wrong with this picture' challenge

Christmas lights
Look at the static picture below for a while, until the color curved 'neons' seem to vibrate and blink forward and backward... Can you explain why this happens?

moving pattern
Author: Gianni A. Sarcone
source: Eye Tricks, ISBN 1844427773
This illusion is also featured in Scientific American Online Gallery.

 

Solution

The mechanism of this kind of illusions is still not well understood... My hypothesis is that it is induced by the alternating of small light and dark strokes. It is a kind of afterimage effect caused by the lateral inhibition of our retina.
The eye actually tends to shift around the stroke patterns by avoiding to focus on the disturbing single elements; but doing that, each consecutive retinal image is then superimposed with a very small delay so that a light visual 'swarming' activity appears at the boundaries of the stroke patterns (within the color curved 'neons'). The effect decreases, or even disappears, if you bring your face closer to the screen.
This illusion is similar to Isia Leviant's illusion named Enigma.

- G. Sarcone

You're encouraged to expand and/or improve this article. Send your comments, feedback or suggestions to Gianni A. Sarcone. Thanks!

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