Best optical illusion


Motion-induced blindness

Motion Induced Blindness (MIB) is a phenomenon of visual disappearance or perceptual illusions observed in the lab, in which stationary visual stimuli disappear as if erased in front of an observer's eyes when masked with a moving background. Most recent research has shown that microsaccades counteract disappearance but are neither necessary nor sufficient to account for MIB.

Motion-induced blindness

Motion-induced blindness was originally discovered by Ramachandran and Gregory in 1991.However it was given more attention and named when rediscovered by Bonneh, Cooperman, and Sagi in 2001. The researchers originally attributed its causes strictly to attentional mechanisms, seeing the visual system as operating in a winner-takes-it-all manner.

Troxler's fading, discovered by Troxler in 1804, is a very similar phenomenon in which an object away from one's focus of attention disappears and reappears irregularly. There is no necessity for a moving background for this illusion to occur. Other similar phenomena in which salient stimuli disappear and reappear include binocular rivalry, discovered as early as 1593, monocular rivalry,and flash suppression.

As the phenomenon was discovered so recently, researchers have speculated about whether MIB occurs outside the laboratory, without being noticed as such. Situations such as driving, in which some night drivers should see stationary red tail lights of the preceding cars disappear temporally when they attend to the moving stream of lights from oncoming traffic may be case points.

Motion-induced blindness

Motion-induced blindness

In this demonstration the observer focuses at the flickering green dot in the middle. After about 10 seconds, the observer sees one, two or all three of the static yellow dots arranged at the corners of an imaginary equilateral triangle disappear and then reappear. These disappearances and reappearances continue pseudo-randomly for as long as the observer cares to look. (Wikipedia)


Motion-induced blindness

Motion-induced blindness

Look at the center of the three yellow dots and take in the motion of the blue ones. Eventually the yellow dots will disappear for a short while.

Image source: Amos Storkey,University of Edinburgh Motion-induced blindness
Image source: Yoram S. Bonneh, Alexander Cooperman & Dov Sagi in Nature 411:798-801 (2001)

Disappearing Stars

 Disappearing Stars Optical Illusion

If you concentrate your eyes on the moon, you’ll experience the disappearance of the stars.

Image source: Mighty Optical Illusions Disappearing Stars Optical Illusion.



Optical illusions from Honda's TV commercials

Optical illusion from Honda's TV commercial
Optical illusion from Honda's TV commercial


Explanation: These ads by Honda use 3D painting and 3D street art illusions. The ads were shot on film and no computer animation nor special effect was involved. View behind-the-scenes explanatory videos below!

Honda Illusions, An Impossible Made Possible.
See the video at   alt    


Enigma Illusion

When viewing the famous optical illusion painting Enigma by Isia Leviant, many people claim to see motion within the colored circles moving against the black and white striped background.
For the past 200 years, researchers have debated whether the illusion of motion in a static image is caused by mechanisms in the eye, in the brain, or by a combination of both. Because measuring these kinds of physiological responses is difficult, no study has successfully measured direct and tightly timed correlations between a kinetic illusion and a physiological precursor.
But recently, a team of researchers from the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, and the University of Vigo in Vigo, Spain, has found a direct correlation between illusory motion and microsaccades, which are tiny eye movements that involuntarily occur several times per second during visual fixation. Although the team hasn’t determined the neural mechanism behind the correlation, the finding rules out the hypothesis that the origin of the kinetic optical illusion is purely cortical.
(Reference: Optical illusions: caused by eye or brain?)

Enigma Illusion

Enigma Illusion   Enigma Illusion  

Left: Isia Leviant’s Enigma - The purple rings appear to fill with rapid illusory motion. When viewing the famous optical illusion painting Enigma by Isia Leviant, many people claim to see motion within the colored circles moving against the black and white striped background.
Right: Look at the center of the above image and notice how the concentric green rings appear to fill with rapid illusory motion, as if millions of tiny and barely visible cars were driving hell-bent for leather around a track. Neuroscientist and engineer Jorge Otero-Millan of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix created this image as a reinterpretation of Enigma by Léviant, who unknowingly combined the MacKay rays and the BBC wallboard.

The Rotating-Tilted-Lines Illusion

The Rotating-Tilted-Lines Illusion  

An illusion developed by vision scientists Simone Gori and Kai Hamburger, then at the University of Freiburg in Germany, is a novel variation of both the enigma effect and Riley’s Blaze. To best observe the illusion, move your head closer and then farther away from the page. As you approach the image, notice that the radial lines appear to rotate counter clockwise. As you move away from the image, they appear to rotate clockwise.

Combination of the rotating-tilted-lines illusion and the enigma illusion

Combination of the rotating-tilted-lines illusion and the enigma illusion  

Gori and Hamburger’s combination of the rotating-tilted-lines illusion and the enigma illusion is both visually arresting and a powerful demonstration of illusory motion from a static pattern. The enigma illusion, almost three decades after its creation by Léviant, continues to inspire visual science as well as visual arts.

The Christmas Lights illusion

The Christmas Lights illusion  

The Christmas Lights illusion, by Italian artist and author Gianni A. Sarcone, is also based on Léviant’s Enigma. Notice the appearance of a flowing motion along the green-yellow stripes.



Lilac chaser - Fast (Phi Phenomenon) and Slow (Beta-Movement)

Phi Lilac chaser (Fast)

Phi Lilac chaser

The lilac chaser is a visual illusion, also known as the Pac-Man illusion. It consists of 12 lilac (or pink, rose or magenta), blurred discs arranged in a circle (like the numbers on a clock), around a small black, central cross on a grey background. One of the discs disappears briefly (for about 0.1 seconds), then the next (about 0.125 seconds later), and the next, and so on, in a clockwise direction. When one stares at the cross for about 5 seconds or so, one sees three different things:
1. A gap running around the circle of lilac discs;
2. A green disc running around the circle of lilac discs in place of the gap;
3. The green disc running around on the grey background, with the lilac discs having disappeared in sequence.
The chaser effect results from the phi phenomenon illusion, combined with an afterimage effect in which an opposite, complementary, colour—green—appears when each lilac spot disappears (if the discs were blue, one would see yellow), and Troxler's fading of the lilac discs. (Wikipedia)

Blue Lilac chaser

Beta Lilac chaser (Slow)

Beta Lilac chaser

This image of Lilac chaser has a slow speed similar to that of beta-movement.

Beta-Phi Lilac chaser (Medium)

Beta-Phi Lilac chaser

This image of Lilac chaser has a speed between that of phi phenomenon and beta-movement. A circle of green spot is seen in place of the gap.







(1) A single large cube with a bite out of its corner           (2) A small cube outside a large cube


(3) A small cube inside a large cube

Watch the video at


We have all seen ambiguous figures in which the same object can be seen in two different ways.
One example is the venerable Necker cube. Neuroscientists use such visual stimuli in experiments to help find the circuits in the brain responsible for conscious perception. They reason that our shifting perspective on ambiguous figures is based on changes in neural activity that do not correspond to alterations in the physical image cast on your retina. Thus, a modulation of the neural response under these conditions may underlie perception that is divorced from reality.
Vision scientists Guy Wallis and David Lloyd of the University of Queensland in Australia noticed that some ambiguous figures could be seen three ways, as demonstrated in their uncanny threefold cubes illusion.

In this case, the illusionists made a computer model of three different objects that all looked exactly the same when seen from one critical perspective (upper right image). From that view, each figure is ambiguous. The brain can-not decide whether the edges are pointing toward or away from the viewer because both interpretations are equally correct. As a result, the brain cycles between the interpretations.
The object could be two cubes (upper left image), a single cube with a cube-shaped bite out of it (lower right image), or a concave surface illuminated from below (lower left image).
The illusionists then rotated each object to show that when viewed from other perspectives, the figures are clearly distinct. Each one of them represents one of the three possible visual interpretations of the item from the ambiguous perspective.



Elongated cube drawn with parallel sides

Leaning tower illusion: Elongated cube drawn with parallel side

The illusion found with side-by-side replicas of an image of a receding object applies also to a single object, as in this figure. The figure is drawn with parallel sides, yet the impression is of an object that becomes fatter with distance.

Note: This image is associated with a type of Leaning tower illusion but it closely resembles Cafe wall illusion.

Illusory Pyramid

Rotating Reversals

Illusory 3-Dimensional Pyramid
by vision scientists Pietro Guardini and Luciano Gamberini, both then at the University of Padua in Italy, won second prize in the 2007 Best Illusion of theYear Contest.
The illusory pyramid is a novel variant of the classic Kanizsa triangle, in which the phantom shape of a triangle arises from the placement of three Pac-Man shapes at an imagined triangle’s corners. Guardini and Gamberini’s illusion adds a background, formed by three patches with different levels of gray, to the three Pac-Men. As the angle formed by the intersection of the three gray segments varies, the illusory triangle becomes a pyramid and then reverts.

Watch at Original animated version of "The Illusory Contoured Tilting Pyramid"  


Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion (Ambiguous Objects)

2016 Second prize. Kokichi Sugihara, Meiji University, Japan

Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion   Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion

Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion
View the video at

Kokichi Sugihara found a class of objects that change the appearances when they are reflected in a mirror. Of course, the shape of an object should not change even if it is reflected in a mirror. So the change of the appearance is a kind of optical illusion.
Sugihara has built outstanding sculptures of impossible objects, that appear as very different shapes depending on their vantage point. At any other angle, the illusion fails. Scientists refer to this as the accidental view, but there is nothing accidental about it. To perceive the illusion, the view must be carefully staged and choreographed, or else the audience will fail to see the “impossible” sculpture.
Left: There's a small plastic square — or is it a circle? Based on whether you're looking at it in a mirror or in person, it's a shape that appears to simultaneously be two different shapes.
The direct views of the objects and their mirror images generate quite different interpretations of the 3D shapes. In one view they appear to be rectangles, while in the other view they appear to be circles.
Right: Ambiguous Cylinders

Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion - How it Works?

Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion  Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion  Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion  Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion

The Real Shape of Ambiguous Cylinder
The real shape is between a circle and a square. The tops of the sides are wave patterns. Two sides dip up, and two sides dip down.

Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion  Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion

Watch it at
Left Video       Right Video


Transformation Objects (Third generation impossible objects)

Transformation Objects: The roof of a garage   Transformation Object: Full Moon and Star   Transformation Objects: Rotation of Gingko Leaf

Transformation Objects

Left: The roof of a garage appears to be quite different in a mirror. Our brains seem to interpret the edge of the roof as the planar cut perpendicular to the axis of the roof. A paper model of this roof can be made from the construction kit. This illusion won the 2nd prize of the Best Illusion of the Year Contest 2015.
Middle: Full Moon and Star.
The section of this cylinder appears to be a full moon, while that in a mirror appears to be a star.
Right: Rotation of Gingko Leaf.
The section of the cylinder apperars to be a gingko leaf. The shape does not change in a mirror, but it is rotation by 90 degrees. A general view of this object is shown in the right lower corner.

Partly Imvisible Objects (Fourth Generation Impossible Objects)

A new class of objects, in which part of objects appear or disappear in a mirror.

Partly imvisible hexagonal prism   Partly imvisible object   Partly imvisible object

Partly Imvisible Objects

Left: Partly imvisible hexagonal prism: The lower half of the hexagonal prism disappears when it is reflected in a mirror.
The object appears to be a hexagonal prism standing in such a way that the axis of the prism is horizontal. There is a rooster at the bottom plate. In the mirror image, however, the lower half of the prism together with the rooster disappears just as if the lower part is buried in the dest.
How to construct this object by paper crafting.   Copy
Middle: The upper half of the object disappears in a mirror.
Right: Part of the object is invisible in a direct view, but appears in a mirror.


Rotating Reversals

Rotating Reversals

You are looking at two spinning rings. When you look at the yellow dot, the rings spin toward each other; when you look at the red dot, the rings spin away from each other.

Stare at the illusion above, let your eyes wander ever so slightly and you’ll notice how the spinning circles and dots seem to spontaneously change direction. From one angle, the spots spin anticlockwise, from another they appear to switch direction - and moving your eyes across the two circles causes a number of different movements to occur.
In reality, the circles do not change direction at all though - it's all an illusion.


Swimmers illusion

The shaded ovals are always stationay. It is the moving background that makes the ovals appear to move.


Silencing awareness of change by background motion

"Silencing awareness of change by background motion" by Jordan Suchow & George Alvarez (2011 First prize | Best Illusion of the Year Contest)
Play the movie while looking at the small white speck in the center of the ring. At first, the ring is motionless and it’s easy to tell that the dots are changing color. When the ring begins to rotate, the dots suddenly appear to stop changing. But in reality they are changing the entire time.

Impossible motion

Impossible motion

Additional video of Impossible motion   Impossible ball motion  


Snow Blind illusion

Snow Blind illusion.
The "Snow Blind illusion" is very simple. The speed of falling snowflakes appears to be accelerated by blinds.

The Illusion of a Curveball

The break of the curveball.


Mind-controlled motion

Mind-controlled motion.
Which way does the motion go? Is it up and down, or right and left? The truth is, the motion is entirely in your mind!
In this demonstration, you first see a random texture moving up and down for 5 frames. After those priming frames, the remaining frames are completely random, but you will continue seeing up and down motion for several more frames.
To convince yourself that this is all in your mind, try thinking to yourself “right left right left”. The same sequence of random textures will appear to move whichever way your mind decides.

Moving dots Illusion

Moving dots Illusion   Moving dots Illusion

Left: Focus on one ball at a time and you will notice that the dots are moving on straight lines and do not change color.
Right: Watch as the balls rotate in a circle. They are in fact made up of dots that move in straight lines. Focus on one ball at a time and notice that it follows a straight line.

See also Crazy Circle Illusion! at


Pretty celebrities turn ugly

Pretty celebrities turn ugly.

Pretty girls turn ugly!

Pretty girls turn ugly!


Celebrities turn into monsters

Celebrities turn into monsters

The cross will bring out the inner Satan of Hollywood celebrities.