Mind-bending optical illusion tricks you into thinking identical spots are different colours


From the seemingly endless staircase to ‘The Dress’, many optical illusions have left viewers around the world baffled over the years.

Now, a new illusion has been created that tricks your brain into thinking identical spots are different colours.

The illusion features two grey dots on a background that consists of a gradient from light grey to black.

While the two dots are actually identical, they appear very different based on where they’re placed against the background.

Now, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have revealed the science behind the illusion, and say that the phenomenon relies on brightness estimation taking place before visual information reaches your brain.

Professor Pawan Sinha, who worked on the study, said: “All of our experiments point to the conclusion that this is a low-level phenomenon.

“The results help answer the question of what is the mechanism that underlies this very fundamental process of brightness estimation, which is a building block of many other kinds of visual analyses.”

In the study, the researchers studied nine blind children in India who underwent sight-saving surgery.

The children were shown the illusion and still saw the spots as different colours, indicating that brightness estimations are based on a simple brain circuit, rather than on prior visual experience.

Professor Sinha said: “If brightness estimation is really a low-level process, and the circuitry is located as early as the retina, then perhaps this is an innate dispensation.

“This is something that the visual system comes prepared to do, right from birth.”


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