Scientists have discovered the illusion of a black hole that will deceive your brain and your eyes

Scientists have discovered the illusion of a black hole that will deceive your brain and your eyes

When you look at optical illusion, you may feel that your brain is scratching in all the right places – or maybe all the wrong ones. The Magic Eye artwork is like a mind massage. But staring long enough at MC Escher’s endless Penrose Stairs will confuse you in oblivion.

Okay, take a deep breath, because a group of psychologists has another stupid game for you.

It is described as an “expanding black hole.” But in reality, it is not expanding at all. It’s static. See for yourself below.

An “expanding black hole” is a new illusion for science because it can cause your pupils to expand in anticipation of entering dark space.

Laeng, Nabil and Kitaoka

Do you see that dark ellipse keep growing and somehow mimic what it would be like if you fell into it? I know I do. And I get it. But according to the team’s research, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience on Monday, looking at this abstract work of art is much more than just imagination.

Because illusion implies a change in light, or expanding darkness, the study writers write that “it is possible to examine the impact of illusion not only through the observer’s phenomenology, consisting of conscious verbal reports, but also by examining concurrent, involuntary, physiological index: pupil diameter.”

In other words, if you see a balloon black hole right now, your pupils are probably widening or enlarging in diameter, as if the hole were legitimately widening. Your students are cheated.

“The widening hole” is a highly dynamic illusion, “said Bruno Laeng, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo and the first author of the study.” hole or tunnel. “

Purple dots moving in a spiral on a green background.

Do you see those purple dots in a spiral? Try to focus on one area of ​​the image and it will stop quite quickly. But this is again a typical optical illusion.


Even if you didn’t say you saw the illusion moving in front of you, your eyes may be quietly betraying you – and this finding is probably further evidence that we might want to rethink the scientific value of our small optical cavities. In a sense, our students seem to be a pretty strong gateway to the human mind. A recent study, for example, also found that pupil dilatation may indicate whether a person is suffering from aphasia or “mental eye” deficiency.

It simply refers to one’s ability to viscerally imagine objects in one’s mind without the object actually being in front of them. In the past, aphasia was a characteristic mentioned only in verbal statements and often rejected as an illusion, because we had no biological evidence of this phenomenon.

“While it was already known that imaginary objects can cause so-called ‘endogenous’ pupil size changes, we were surprised to see more dramatic changes in those who reported more vivid images,” said one researcher.

Version of MC Escher’s Penrose Staircase.


But going back to the optical illusions, Laeng and other researchers further supported their view of the pupil response by measuring how 50 men and women with normal vision responded to a new trance-like illusion. And to shake it up a bit, they offered subjects this illusion in different colors – some were asked to see blue, green, cyan, magenta, red, yellow or white holes (and surrounding dots) instead of the standard blacks we’re looking at.

The results basically showed that the pupils of the subjects literally activated in response to the illusion, although this reflex was most effective when the displayed objects were black. For participants who saw the expansion happen, the darkness seemed to support a strong dilation of the pupils, but interestingly, the color versions forced the pupils to withdraw instead, which means that they shrunk on average.

Notably, the study adds a caveat that subjective reports of hole expansion, specifically for the black version of the image, varied greatly from subject to subject. The researchers also said they were still unsure why some people could not fully see the widening hole, while others could.

In the future, Laeng said the team hopes to discuss whether other biological reflexes could “shed light” on how people examine such mind-bending images.

There is also the question of whether this type of involuntary, illusion-induced pupil reaction occurs in other species. I can only wonder if my cat, sitting right behind me, also has a scratch in my brain as she watches me write this article, pupils widening due to the mesmerizing image of the black hole above.

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