Optical illusions are fun ways to challenge our minds and make us question what we see. The world of illusions is a thriving one, with brand-new examples and fresh takes on classics constantly under development by researchers and artists. The annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest honors the finest visual (and auditory) brainteasers around.
The contest is run by the Neural Correlate Society, a nonprofit organization that "promotes scientific research into the neural correlates of sensory perception, awareness, and cognitive experience." The contest accepts entries for novel illusions of sound and sight. The entries are judged by an international panel and three top winners are chosen.
Drumroll, please. The champion is the Dynamic Ebbinghaus! It's OK if you've never heard of it. The classic Ebbinghaus illusion plays with our perception of relative size. You have two circles that are the same size. One is surrounded by large circles. The other is surrounded by small circles. The circle surrounded by small ones looks bigger than the circle surrounded by large ones.
The contest winner takes this idea and animates it into a short video. Watch it below and revel in how the central circle appears to change size, even though it really stays the same. The human mind is a wonderful thing to toy with.
The contest runners-up include a targetlike circle gif that appears to change colors and a video illusion involving three images of a road that switch between looking the same and different from each other, even though two of them match exactly. If that sounds confusing, you'll just have to see them and puzzle over them yourself.