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'Time-traveling illusion' tricks the brain


Posted on Wednesday, 10 October, 2018 | Comment icon 10 comments

Our senses can sometimes play tricks on us. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed an intriguing new sensory illusion.
Known as the 'Rabbit Illusion', this mind-bending brain teaser has been designed to show how our senses can influence each other and in particular, how sounds can give rise to visual illusions.

To try the illusion for yourself, watch the video below (before reading the explanation.)

The illusion works by bombarding your senses with a rapid series of beeps and flashes. The idea is to determine how many flashes there were - did you see two or three ?

Although most people will see three flashes, the correct answer is that there were only two.

The illusion demonstrates a phenomenon known as postdiction in which a stimulus that occurs later can alter our perception of something that happened previously.

In this case, hearing three beeps influences our perception of how many flashes there were.

"Illusions are a really interesting window into the brain," said first author Noelle Stiles. "By investigating illusions, we can study the brain's decision-making process. For example, how does the brain determine reality with information from multiple senses that is at times noisy and conflicting?"


Source: Caltech | Comments (10)

Tags: Illusion

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Susanc241 on 10 October, 2018, 10:53
Interesting! The brain seems to want to match the sound with the sight. Pity they gave away the answer in spoiler fashion before getting to watch the video. That didn?t help with an unbiased experience.
Comment icon #2 Posted by pallidin on 10 October, 2018, 11:12
Yes... exactly what's new here? Associative dynamics... nothing new.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Legendarren on 10 October, 2018, 12:25
It says at the beginning that you should watch the video before reading the explanation.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Habitat on 10 October, 2018, 12:29
So how is it a "time-travelling"  illusion ?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Seti42 on 10 October, 2018, 13:00
Because after viewing the video, we're 50 seconds into the future!
Comment icon #6 Posted by South Alabam on 10 October, 2018, 14:23
Sometimes when I hear a loud noise that startles me I see a flash of light or some other optical type perception, so this seems to make sense.
Comment icon #7 Posted by MisterMan on 10 October, 2018, 17:08
I assume they mean that your brain "goes back in time" and inserts a flash that your eyes never saw.  Our brains lie to us all the time about what we've seen and heard.  The brain tries to make sense of all the input it gets (and doesn't get) and constructs a story that fits.
Comment icon #8 Posted by TripGun on 10 October, 2018, 17:29
I was watching for flashes and always got two... No time travel at all btw.
Comment icon #9 Posted by sci-nerd on 10 October, 2018, 19:15
The failed to state where the explanation was written. I assumed it would be written after the video. They could simply have written: "Here's the explanation!" above the explanation. Knuckleheads!
Comment icon #10 Posted by NicoletteS on 11 October, 2018, 17:35
Stupid. All this shows is that some people hear things and make assumptions without being observant enough to look and see theres only 2 flashes. Was not illusory for me.   I think with all the viral success of prior illusions they were hard pressed to continue. I didnt read the explanation, watched, and could clearly see what was happening and guess what they expected you to think. Not very impressive. If people are falling for it this just says to me some acknowledge thier hearing over thier sight. But we all know that after enough u.m. discussions right?


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