Motion After-effect Optical Illusion
So I’ve noticed that under the #gif tag there is this ‘dopey’ optical illusion. The comment below it says:
Stare into the middle of this for 45 seconds, (look around) and you will feel the effects of LSD.
OMG FREE DRUGS
That’s cool, but you know what is even cooler? The science behind it! (you are now aware of the fact that there is a science behind these things).
AWESOME! So… how does it work?
The thing is called motion after-effect and it can be explained in terms of “fatigue” of the neurons encoding one motion direction. Neurons coding a particular movement reduce their responses with time of exposure to a constantly moving object, causing a neural adaptation.
Another example ot this effect is known as the waterfall illusion. If you will look at a waterfall for about a minute and then look at the stationary rocks at the side of the waterfall, these rocks will appear to be moving upwards slightly.
One theory is that perception of stationary objects, for example rocks beside a waterfall, is coded as the balance among the baseline responses of neurons coding all possible directions of motion. Neural adaptation of neurons stimulated by downwards movement reduces their baseline activity, tilting the balance in favor of upwards movement.
One point for science!
More at my Optical Illusions Explained page.