Jesus is on my wall!


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Jesus illusion.gif

(image courtesy of Google)

 

Throughout our years of schooling, most likely in art class, we have come across different visual illusions, but how is it that our brain falls for this imaginary trick? Above is a picture of an illusion of Jesus. Stare at the four dots in the middle of his face for 30 seconds, then blink and look at a wall. I know it can seem a little creepy, but this image of Jesus will appear right before your eyes. I was first shown this image in a psychology class, and from then on, after seeing multiple illusions in my lifetime, I wondered how it all worked.

 

 According to an article  from Scientific American, "it's a fact of neuroscience that everything we experience is actually a figment of our imagination. Although our sensations feel accurate and truthful, they do not necessarily reproduce the physical reality of the outside world." The article, written by Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik,

 

we may see something that is not there, or fail to see something that is there, or even see something different from what is there. Because of this disconnect between perception and reality, visual illusions demonstrate the ways in which the brain can fail to recreate the physical world." In short, this means that our brain is actually perceiving these illusions in the way that the artist of the illusion wants us to.

 

Back in 2009, a study was done by researchers in Japan to try a figure out the inner working of the brain even more when it comes in contact with a visual illusion (the illusion they used can be seen in the article from the link above). The article discusses that before the study, "scientists believed illusions that simulated movement (like the example given) involved higher-level brain activity -- the imagination. But this study found the illusion sparked brain activity generated by a bottom-up process in the visual cortex." As the article states, the study compared levels of eye movements as participants watched the rotating snakes illusion."When participants moved their eyes while watching the illusion, the study reported higher activity in the motion-perception area of the brain." Akiyoshi Kitaoka of Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University in Japan, one of the scientists in this study, went on to state in a similar article that, "an illusion is a "misperception of a real object," adding that defining what is "real" is a difficult task that depends on recognition and epistemology. An illusion is formed when the perceived characteristics of the object differ from the physical characteristics."

 Kitaoka goes on to state that even more studies have been done recently to try and figure out why illusions are seen the way they are and also why different people can see these illusions in different ways (old vs. young).

Illusions can be a tricky subject since it involves a lot of neuroscience and knowing a thing or two about the brain. What do you guys think, do you think more studies should be done to become even more aware as to why these illusions are so particularly alluring to the eye? I found throughout my research that these illusions are becoming important in different things such as advertisements and online content to try and attract viewers to a site or a specific piece of information. Do you find yourself being drawn to illusions and "eye trickery" artwork?

 

2 Comments

hey kelly , this is very interesting and cool . i was shocked myself when I saw that this actually worked. however in mostcases when I do little pictures like this i cant allways see the image that I am suspose to see. My question is , how do we know this isnt just our minding playing a trick .what if you only see it because you belive that you are suspose to see it ?

I wonder if the illusion works differently for different people because when I first tried to do it, it had no effect on me. At first I thought I would research why optical illusions don't work for different people but I ended up finding the same illusion that you found, but this one had different directions. Instead of staring for thirty seconds and then staring at the wall, this version instructed me to look for twenty seconds and close my eyes. This time the illusion worked and I still saw the image when I closed my eyes. I wonder why one way worked for me and the other didn't. Are some people more inclined to see optical illusions than others?
Here's a link to the optical illusion I found. It's about halfway down the page.
http://sparrowlet.hubpages.com/hub/optical-illusions-and-the-brain#

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