A traveling-bar illusion

Matthew, who loves illusions, sent me this tw**t:

Now an explanation for this is published here (it’s based, as you might expect, on differences in contrast), but I can’t be arsed to read it. Those who have more patience than I are welcome to explain it below.

 

20 Comments

  1. busterggi
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    You’re making my brain hurt.

  2. GBJames
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hmm…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Very good!

      cr

  3. peepuk
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    The zebra stripes illusion might be a real thing.

  4. Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I held up a piece of paper to the leading edge of the markers and the illusion persisted — it still looked like they were alternating in motion.

    Then I cut a slit in a piece of paper to mask everything except the two moving markers and the space between them. Then the illusion disappears.

    It’s such a strong illusion, I had to check!

    • ploubere
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Interesting. The human brain is easily fooled.

    • somer
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      They said its the contrast – one box is much lighter and more reflective than the other – seems to me the black perpendicular bands accentuate this so when there the eye jumps back and forth between them perhaps so they appear to jiggle forward with the pale one jiggling first

  5. ploubere
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m too lazy to read the explanation too, but my guess would be that it has to do with constructivism theory, about how we construct images through series of rapid eye movements. So you have to look at the yellow bar and then the blue one in rapid succession to track their movements. Somehow the bars must interfere with the brain piecing those two observations together.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      No, it’s contrast making some areas of the bars stand out more. If you look at the GIF before it starts moving, with yellow & blue bars just nudging a black stripe on their right, the right-hand end of the blue bar (on a white stripe) stands out more than its left-hand end (on a black stripe), so its ‘visual centre of gravity’ is displaced to the right. Opposite for the yellow bar. So the blue bar appears in this static state to be to the right of the yellow bar.

      This is consistent with what happens when the bars start moving.

      cr

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “And down the home stretch, it’s blue by a neck, yellow by a neck, blue by a neck, yellow by a neck … and at the wire … dead heat!”

    I can still make it to post-time for the 10th at Gulfstream Park if I hurry …

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I think it goes – It’s cabbage by a head, bubble gum sticking to the rail.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Dare I ask what’s bringing up the rear?

  7. Alan Clark
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    When the ends of the bars are on the white background, the yellow is barely visible so it is hard to see it move. On the black background the blue bar is barely visible, so now it is hard to see that move. Dunno why the given explanation is so long and complicated!

    • Posted September 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you can see that in the still where the blue looks ahead of the yellow.

  8. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    (Before I read the other comments – see if this works:

    The movement of the yellow bar is more obvious while it’s crossing the black lines, and almost imperceptible (low-contrast) while it’s crossing the white lines.
    The opposite applies for the blue bar.

    Hence they appear to progress alternately.

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      And I see Alan Clark just said exactly that.

      I’m always late to the party with these things.

      cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        … and a very quick scan of the linked paper confirms (if I read it aright) that Alan and my explanations are correct. Also that it’s contrast that causes it rather than ‘polarity’ (which I interpret as relative darkness).

        The paper is complicated because it goes into a lot of substantiating detail, I guess.

        cr

  9. Posted September 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Double-clicking your touchpad (or mouse just left to the word GIF), you can clearly see the bars moving at the same speed. .-


%d bloggers like this: