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Optical Illusions That Will Melt Your Mind!

AUGUST 21, 2015  —  By Cassandra Armour

Optical illusions are visual images that deceive our eyes and brain into "seeing" a result that isn't what actually exists, such as movement from static images, spacial arrangement puzzles that confuse size and shape perception, and complex color tricks.

Remember the Dressgate debacle that went viral and broke the internet? Millions debated over whether a cocktail dress [above] was a bright white and gold, or a rich cobalt blue and black, thanks to our different perceptions of the light cast on it. (Remember, it was actually blue and black in real life.) Scientific data followed up the viral phenomenon, clarifying how we could see the image differently and why.

"Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance," Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, told Wired."But I've studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I've ever seen."

Give your brain a workout and take a look at these 12 optical illusions, hopefully less polarizing than that devious, devil dress.

1. Just breathe. This is actually a still image, with no animation. It only takes a moment of focus to see it "breathing".

Just breathe. This is actually a still image, with no animation. It only takes a moment of focus to see it "breathing".

2. Is this simple ambiguous sketch a timid rabbit or a proud duck? The animal you see says a lot about your personality.

Is this simple ambiguous sketch a timid rabbit or a proud duck? The animal you see says a lot about your personality.

3. You know what grinds my gears? The slow, rotating gears in this brain-bending illusion aren't really moving. Crazily enough, this is a fixed image.

You know what grinds my gears? The slow, rotating gears in this brain-bending illusion aren't really moving. Crazily enough, this is a fixed image.

4. Are you the student or the sensei? Do you see the potential to "teach" or "learn"?

Are you the student or the sensei? Do you see the potential to "teach" or "learn"?

5. Grow, baby, grow! Don't get sucked into this swelling black hole.

Grow, baby, grow! Don't get sucked into this swelling black hole.

6. Uno, dos, tres! As you move further away from this tricky image, more and more is revealed.

Uno, dos, tres!  As you move further away from this tricky image, more and more is revealed.

7. Karma chameleon: Can you see that the two squares with dots inside of them are actually in the same color?

Karma chameleon: Can you see that the two squares with dots inside of them are actually in the same color?

8. The Blivet Illusion is a truly remarkable shape-shifting trick. Does a third pole in the middle exist, or do your eyes deceive you?

The Blivet Illusion is a truly remarkable shape-shifting trick. Does a third pole in the middle exist, or do your eyes deceive you?

9. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What do you behold when you take a moment to focus on this star? It appears to float gently over the background, but it's really a still image.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What do you behold when you take a moment to focus on this star? It appears to float gently over the background, but it's really a still image.

10. Are these red lines straight? Take a closer look, you might be surprised what these "blurred lines" reveal!

Are these red lines straight? Take a closer look, you might be surprised what these "blurred lines" reveal!

11. Existential crisis! Do these lines even exist? The reality might really scramble your brains.

Existential crisis! Do these lines even exist? The reality might really scramble your brains.

12. Is it blue or gold? How about neither? It's "the dress" allover again. Can your eyes differentiate that these two middle pieces of each X are actually the exact same shade of silver?

Is it blue or gold? How about neither? It's "the dress" allover again. Can your eyes differentiate that these two middle pieces of each X are actually the exact same shade of silver?

13. Ready to shatter your reality? Area A and area B are the exact same size. Check it with a ruler and see for yourself.

Ready to shatter your reality?  Area A and area B are the exact same size. Check it with a ruler and see for yourself.

14. This one's trippy. Try tracing your finger along the spirals of little squares and see where it leads.

This one's trippy. Try tracing your finger along the spirals of little squares and see where it leads.

15. Are these leaves swaying the breeze? Isn't it frustrating how easily a fixed image can really fool you?

Are these leaves swaying the breeze? Isn't it frustrating how easily a fixed image can really fool you?

16. Taken aback in black: see those black balls between the squares where the white paths intersect? They're not really there! This illusion is called a Hermann Grid.

Taken aback in black: see those black balls between the squares where the white paths intersect? They're not really there! This illusion is called a Hermann Grid.

17. Fractals rock! When you take a moment to focus, these carefully-placed fractals suddenly start frolicking. But this is not an animated image, and their spinning is all in your mind's eye.

Fractals rock! When you take a moment to focus, these carefully-placed fractals suddenly start frolicking. But this is not an animated image, and their spinning is all in your mind's eye.

18. This one's swell. These lines seem to be bowing slightly, right? But they're not bending at all, they're completely straight.

This one's swell. These lines seem to be bowing slightly, right? But they're not bending at all, they're completely straight.

19. It's a-maz-ing. Is this loopy labyrinth actually slithering around? No, like the others, this hypnotizing image is also not what it seems and is static.

It's a-maz-ing. Is this loopy labyrinth actually slithering around? No, like the others, this hypnotizing image is also not what it seems and is static.

20. The classic: is this sketch a portrait of a youthful beauty or a caricature of a dame in her twilight years? Or is it meant to reflect both; the march of time from a supple young lady to a withering old woman? Originally published in the humor magazine Puck in 1915, ironically, this old beauty has withstood the test of time for over a century now.

The classic: is this sketch a portrait of a youthful beauty or a caricature of a dame in her twilight years? Or is it meant to reflect both; the march of time from a supple young lady to a withering old woman? Originally published in the humor magazine <em>Puck</em> in 1915, ironically, this old beauty has withstood the test of time for over a century now.