The “Black Hole Rings” illusion, created by the renowned psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka, is an exceptional example of an anomalous motion illusion, a type of illusion where stationary images appear to move.

In this illusion, you see a series of orange rings placed against a purple background. The pattern in the rings and their contrast with the background create a compelling impression of rotation, despite the image being completely static. This is mainly due to the clever manipulation of color, light, and pattern.

The illusion relies on the mechanism behind what’s known as the peripheral drift illusion. When you stare directly at one point in the image, the part of the image you’re directly looking at remains stationary. However, the rings in your peripheral vision, the part of your vision outside the center of gaze, seem to rotate.

This is thought to be due to differential motion signals that our brain receives and processes from the alternating dark and light areas in the illusion. It’s believed that our visual system processes the dark areas slower than the light areas, and when these contrasting areas are arranged in specific patterns, it creates an illusion of motion.

The “Black Hole Rings” illusion illustrates the power and intricacy of our visual system and its ability to process complex information, often leading to fascinating perceptual effects. It reminds us of how our perception of reality can sometimes be a construct of our mind.

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