Can You Find the Animal in This Picture?

An optical illusion recently broke the Internet and sparked heated debate about the animal appearing on it. Apparently, only 1% of people could even spot an animal on it. Are you one of those people?

The simple picture of black and white lines is challenging for our brain, not to mention hard on the eyes. It’s a pitch-perfect example of the so-called McCollough effect that tricks the brain to see a pinkish tinge after staring at black and white lines. The effect is scientifically proven and this picture proves it.

What Do You See?

The McCollough effect is triggered when you stare at black and white lines or two colored ‘induction images’ for a couple of minutes. It works best with red or green lines, but vertical black and white lines do the trick as well. Look at them for a few minutes and you should notice a green or pinkish tinge over the pic.

If you tilt your head for 90 degrees, the effect can be heightened or lessened. Rotating any of these induction images may even reverse it. The longer you stare at it, the longer the effect will last.

Named after Celeste McCollough Howard, the woman who discovered it, the so-called ‘contingent aftereffect’ is an illusion that tricks your brain into seeing things that are not there. Science has done a lot of studies on the McCollough effect and showed no lessening even after 5 days.

Test Yourself with the Images Below

The images below are a perfect representation of the McCollough effect. If you’ve never experienced it, you can test yourself with them. The vortex effect will hurt your brain a bit and your eyes too, but it’s definitely fun.

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According to studies, the effect is processed somewhere in the visual cortex between the brain and eyes. A thesis submitted to Edinburgh University agreed with this, confirming that the processing mechanisms are located in the primary visual cortex.

Other studies have looked at how prevalent the effect is. They found that if the image was green, the vertical grates will be red while the horizontal ones will remain green. The effect is reversed for red induction images. Put any other color such as blue to it, and the aftereffects will be pretty weak.

If you’re wondering why this only works with grates, it might be because of the neurons in our visual cortex responding to preferred spatial frequency and orientation. That’s everything we know about the McCollough effect so far. It has something to do with the visual cortex and tricks the brain one way or another, but we don’t know the precise mechanism behind it.

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We hope that science gives us clear facts on it soon – we’d love to know how it tricks our brains!