It’s the end of another long working week so you’ll probably be in some state of neural fatigue which makes you ripe for this optical illusion, sent to me by my friend Susan, which will exploit that very condition.

Pink dots, green dots

So here’s what to do: Let your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink. Now, stare at the the black plus sign (+) in the center of the image. First, the moving dot turns to green. (I saw the green dot right away, so perhaps you will too?) Then as you continue to stare, all the pink dots will disappear, and you will only see only a single green dot rotating. This can happen in different ways (including different ways for same person in successive viewings):

  1. Green dot consumes the pink dots
  2. Dots disappear, but reappear briefly after being passed by green dot
  3. Dots in certain positions disappear quickly and dots in other positions can persist for several additional rotations of the green dot.

Because this is an effect of neural fatigue, minor gaps in concentration can cause the circle of pink dots to reappear (and disappear again). Holding your visual concentration, shift your gaze away from the center of this image. The pink dots reappear, but you may also see a full circle of green dots centered on your new focus point.

I’ve actually found another aspect to this illusion which you too might see. If I concentrate on the plus sign for a few seconds then move closer to the screen a little I see a ring of green dots around the ring of pink dots. If I move back from the screen I’ll see the ring of green dots inside the ring of pink dots. Does that happen for you too?

Another popular optical illusion you have probably seen is the old/woman by American psychologist Edward Boring. Apparently when looking at the picture (right) young people tend to see a young girl; older people, an elderly lady.

With effort, you can switch from one to the other: the young woman’s chin becomes the old woman’s nose; the old woman’s mouth, a band on the neck of the young woman.

I couldn’t see the old woman until I read instructions on how to do so. I don’t know what this means in real terms though. Either I have a “young” (and somewhat dumb?) brain, or I have an overactive honeyometer?

Thanks to Susan for the email

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