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  • Back in the mid 1800s, American psychologist Joseph Jastrow illustrated this animal.

  • Some of you will see a duck, others a rabbit - but not both at once. The image itself allows

  • for both interpretations and switching between them involves some mental effort.

  • And when you look at the duck, for example, do you see the same duck that I see? When

  • you and me both see the colour orange, do we experience the same hue? Or the same illusion?

  • Research suggests the differences in our subjective experiences are tied to the different sizes

  • of certain areas in our brain.

  • In one study, researchers asked participants to judge which of these circles is larger.

  • Even though you know these two circles are the same size, it’s almost impossible to

  • see it that way.

  • Using fMRI, they mapped the participantsvisual cortex, the part of your brain responsible

  • for processing visual information.

  • They found those with a larger visual cortex were better at judging the true size of the

  • inner circle, and those with a smaller visual cortex were the least accurate. And they came

  • to the same conclusion using other illusions.

  • It’s difficult to say why exactly the size of one brain area leads to people being more

  • easily tricked by optical illusions.

  • It could have to do with the concentration of chemical messengers inside the visual cortex.

  • Other studies have found that the magnitude of optical illusions differs in people with

  • autism or in people from different cultures.

  • Things we see can be constructed in many different ways. When children were shown the duck-rabbit

  • illusion on Easter Sunday (rabbit season), more children see the rabbit, where on other

  • Sundays they are more likely to see the duck (duck season).

  • In late November, you might even view the duck through the lens of turkey season.

  • Sure, What You See Is What You Get, but remember that things may be perceived through different

  • lenses.

  • Like the size of these circles, the length of these lines, or a pod of dolphins splashing

  • the hours away.

  • And if you don’t already, subscribe to BrainCraft! I have a new brainy episode out every Thursday.

Back in the mid 1800s, American psychologist Joseph Jastrow illustrated this animal.

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B1 UK duck visual cortex cortex visual rabbit optical

Can You See These Optical Illusions?

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    amd posted on 2014/12/11
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