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Optical Illusion Friday: Silencing

By David Ponce

These optical illusions were discovered at Harvard, and demonstrate a phenomenon they’re calling silencing:

Play the movie while looking at the small white speck in the center of the ring. At first, the ring is motionless and it’s easy to tell that the dots are changing color. When the ring begins to rotate, the dots suddenly appear to stop changing. But in reality they are changing the entire time. Take a look.

SILENCING demonstrates the tight coupling of motion and object appearance. Simply by changing the retinotopic coordinates—moving the object or the eyes—it is possible to silence awareness of visual change, causing objects that had once been obviously dynamic to suddenly appear static.