Dynamic Müller-Lyer Illusion

Prize illusion sarcone

I am very proud that my “Dynamic Müller-Lyer Illusion” won the third prize as best illusion of the year 2017!

As you surely know, the “BEST ILLUSION OF THE YEAR CONTEST” is a yearly competition under the patronage of Scientific American, organized by the Neural Correlate Company (New York, USA).

Müller-Lyer’s illusion proves that a segment can visually appear longer or shorter depending on the sense of the arrow heads at its ends. In what consists my variant? As shown in the animation, the red dot in the middle of the line is equidistant from the other two red dots, although the ends of the line visually appear to alternately stretch and shrink like a rubber band!

The radial version of the illusion is even more impressive:

The perceptual increasing and decreasing of the segments occurs in a very short time. Thus, I suppose it is more a physiological phenomenon, rather than a psychological bias. Our attention seems to be attracted by the receptive field WITHIN the V-shaped arrow heads, causing an illusory inward or outward shift of the ends of the line.

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Bidimensional Müller-Lyer Illusion

I am working on a new two-dimensional variant of the Müller-Lyer illusion… You may be surprised to know that the Müller-Lyer illusion isn’t only linear: it involves plane geometry too! In fig. A shown below, the ends of the blue and red collinear segments, arranged in a radial fashion around a central point, delimit two perfectly concentric circles. However, for most observers, they seem instead to define a large ovoid that circumscribes another one, slightly eccentric (Fig. B). This comes from the fact that the red segments seem to stretch towards the lower part of the figure, while the blue segments seem to stretch towards the upper part of the same. As you can see, in this variant comes also into play the “neon color spreading” effect. In fact, a bluish inner oval-like shape appears within the black arrow heads (Fig. A), though the background is uniformly white.
Müller-lyer oval

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