Visual illusions, from magic tricks to images that have sparked internet feuds, are providing scientists with evolving insight into the complex act of seeing. Illusions play with the way our eyes and our brains work together and help establish that what we “see” is shaped by everything from light and eye movement to the influence of expectation, memory and desire.
Neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Rodrigo Quian Quiroga and psychologist Emily Balcetis are among those using illusions to catch the brain in the act of interpreting and sometimes misinterpreting what the eye takes in. In conversation with Brian Greene, they discuss illusions involving everything from celebrity photos to police dash cam tapes to mind bending images that broke the internet.
This program is part of the Big Ideas series, supported by the John Templeton Foundation.