United States Flag Illusion

us_flag illusion

In this optical illusion, you stare at the flag for 30 seconds, then look at a blank space and see the american flag in the correct colors.  We see the famed red, white and blue when we look away because our photoreceptors adapt after looking at the colors for a period of time and stop responding.  We have three different color cone cells, red, blue and green. When we look at the turquoise stripes on the flag, both the blue and green cone cells adapt and stop responding so when we look away, we see red.  It’s the same thing for the base of the stars, our red and green cone cells fire, adapt and stop responding then we only see blue!  Its a very similar thing for the black stars and stripes in this illusion, except to rod cells which pick up white and black.   This optical illusion tells us more about how we perceive colors and that our cones and rods stop firing after a certain period of time.

Sources: http://kin450-neurophysiology.wikispaces.com/Visual+Illusions

2 responses to “United States Flag Illusion”

  1. Laura Kloepper says:

    It might be interesting to look at the adaptation of this over time across individuals: see how long it takes each person for this illusion to take place. What would the shortest time be? The longest?

  2. Samantha Nell says:

    That is definitely an interesting idea. I tried looking at it for about 15 seconds and I was able to see the flag with just as much color and definition as when I waited for 30 seconds as was recommended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *