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Astro Cat Explains… Optical Illusions

Greetings, explorers. You might have noticed some mind-boggling optical illusions on our social media channels – we’re getting our brains warmed up for Galactic Genius with Astro Cat! But why are optical illusions so puzzling? We asked the Prof for his scientific explanation…


The Ebbinghaus Illusion

Ebbinghaus Optical Illusion
In this illusion, the light blue circle on the right appears larger than the one on the left. However, they are exactly the same size. Why do our brains ‘see’ the wrong thing? The answer lies in our perception of objects relative to each other. Your brain understands objects in relation to their context, or what’s going on around them. So, if you place one object with larger objects, it looks small. However, if the same object was placed amongst very small objects, it seems far larger in comparison.


The Simultaneous Contrast Illusion

Simultaneous Contrast Optical Illusion
Here, we can see a rectangle in a solid colour with a gradient behind it. However, many people may find it looks like the bar also has a gradient on it. It may appear lighter on the left hand side, and darker on the right hand side. Once again, it’s all relative. If there was no gradient behind the rectangle, you would be able to see is as one colour. However, your brain determines its colour by comparing it to what’s behind it. On the left hand side, your brain tries to work out its colour based on a dark background. On the right, your brain is judging the colour based on a light background.


The Zöllner Illusion

Zollner Optical Illusions
Finally, the Zöllner Illusion consists of diagonal, parallel lines that are intersected by shorter lines. Because the intersecting short lines go in the opposite direction each time, your brain tells you that the long lines are ‘moving’ towards or away from you. In other words, they look wonky!

The human brain is a very clever organ…but even a simple illusion can trick it. We hope the Professor’s challenges are waking up your brain: you’re going to need all of your logic, concentration, memory, and speed to play Galactic Genius with Astro Cat! Get our latest app here.

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