Archive for the ‘neuroscience’ Category

Looking for a new way to waste time on the subway?

February 27, 2008

I was riding on the L train to Williamsburg to partake of Free PBR Tuesdays when my erstwhile companion pointed out a too-freaky-for-a-schoolnight optical illusion.

Check out this familiar image:

1 train

Take a few steps back from the computer screen, if you have the space/energy. Look at the 1 in the circle and move your head slowly left, then right, keeping your eye on the 1.
Isn’t that weird?

We observed that this works best with a black background and with the red trains: 1, 2, and 3. It also works slightly with the orange trains: F, V and, let’s not forget, D.

Here’s the 2:


and the somewhat less effective F:


I’ve looked through every optical illusion on wikipedia
and have so far failed to come up with the relevant example from psych literature. It could either be a physiological thing, to do with rods and codes and the way that cells in your eyes work, or a cognitive thing, to do with the way the brain organizes visual stimuli. Any thoughts?

How THE SILLIEST GAME EVER apparently works

December 28, 2007

Brilliant neurologist and acclaimed author Vilayanur Ramachandran gave a talk that addresses exactly what I was wondering about on this blog a few days ago, with regards to the bizarre (and super fun) game in which you guess the sounds of visual art:

Note in particular the last segment in which he compares the two fictitious letters of the Martian alphabet. Just as my friends and I came up with the same sounds for each sculpture, 99% of the audience comes up with the same sound for the Martian letters. Apparently our brains have an apparatus called the fusiform gyrus which is responsible for the levels of abstraction that the museum game demands.