We've seen plenty of weird and wonderful optical illusions here at Creative Bloq, usually involving things that look like they're moving (but aren't), or things that look like they're a certain colour (but aren't), or things that look like they're a certain shape, but – you get the idea. But this is the first that can claim to show you the future – kind of.
Doing the rounds online right now is a 'black hole' illusion that tricks the viewer into seeing a black 'blob' expanding towards them. Except it isn't expanding at all – the viewer's brain is telling you what it thinks is about to happen. (Looking for more inspiration? Check out the best optical illusions of all time.)
Great new illusion: The black hole at the center of the image appears to be expanding. The illusion is so powerful that it causes people's pupils to dilate, as if it were getting darker. Our pupils respond to perceived light levels, not just actual ones! https://t.co/pawzYTFZWV pic.twitter.com/js6kJJUOIlJune 1, 2022
According to a comprehensive report in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, over 86% of people who look at the illusion see the shape expanding. "The circular smear or shadow gradient of the central black hole evokes a marked impression of optic flow, as if the observer were heading forward into a hole or tunnel,” the journal explains. “The visual neural compensation network predicts how the stimulus would change in the next moment and generates an illusory ‘outward expansion’ of the central ‘hole’ region.”
This is a fairly new phenomenon in the world of optical illusions. It causes the pupils to dilate, and according to the researchers, the participants who reported seeing the most pronounced expansion had their pupils dilate the greatest. But don't get too excited – this isn't a time machine. The study claims we're only seeing 100 milliseconds into the future – that's how much the eye is 'tricked' into perceiving a change of light that isn't actually happening.
This is by no means the first time we've seen an illusion that proves you shouldn't always believe your eyes. Earlier this year, one example went viral in which eye colours appeared to be very different from their actual hue. Still, nothing will ever quite impress us as much as that infamous rotating horse.