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Study from Carnegie Mellon Neuroscientists Could Explain Mechanism Behind Optical Illusions

Ever see something that isn’t really there? Could your mind be playing tricks on you? The “tricks” might be your brain reacting to feedback between neurons in different parts of the visual system, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience by Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Sandra J. Kuhlman and colleagues.

Understanding this feedback system could provide new insight into the visual system’s neuronal circuitry and could have further implications for understanding how the brain interprets and understands sensory stimuli.

Many optical illusions make you see something that’s not there. Take the Kanizsa triangle: when you place three Pac-Man-like wedges in the right spot, you see a triangle, even though the edges of the triangle aren’t drawn. The full CMU press release is here.