The optical illusion that tricks your brain into seeing colour

"In my head a full colour image was created of a photograph that clearly contains no colour." 

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 17 November 2015 10:06
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An optical illusion which "tricks" the brain into seeing colour.
An optical illusion which "tricks" the brain into seeing colour.

From "The Dress" to invisible sheep optical illusions are fascinating because they showcase how complex our bodies are - but this might be the cleverest example we’ve seen yet.

The illusion was featured on the BBC Four series Colour: The Spectrum of Science. Watch the clip from the show below to experience the trick.

By staring at the blue dot in the centre of the image for a few seconds, your brain will gather enough information to fill a black and white version of Dunstanburgh Castle with vidid colours.

The effect is achieved because as you stare at the dot, the cells in the retina which detect red, green, blue or blue become desensitised and disregard the colours it is seeing.

When your eyes are then confronted with a monochrome image, the eyes will attempt to fill in the colours.

As soon as the eyes are taken off the image, it will once again appear monochrome, Mail Online reported.

Working similarly to a negative film, the process is known as an “afterimage”.

Dr Helen Czerski, a physicist at University College London, said of the illusion: “By staring at the dot in the middle of the screen, my brain, and if you do it your brain, is doing something remarkable.

“I find this absolutely fascinating.

“'In my head a full colour image was created of a photograph that clearly contains no colour,” she says in the clip.

Colour: the Spectrum of Science is now available to view on BBC iplayer

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