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Vision and the Eye

Illustrates the structure of the eye and how it allows us to sense light.

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Seeing With Your Brain

Seeing With Your Brain

Credit: Laura Guerin
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

What does this image look like to you? Do you see two faces in profile? Or do you see a single white vase?

Why It Matters

  • The image above is an optical illusion. An optical illusion is an image that can be interpreted in different ways. Sometimes it’s hard to see the image in more than one way. Our brain won’t let us.
  • Credit: Robson#
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_robson_/7766687718/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Are these circles actually spinning or is your brain tricking you? [Figure2]

  • Optical illusions show how important the brain is in vision. The eyes just sense patterns of light. It’s the brain that tells us what we are seeing.
  • Watch this video to learn more about optical illusions and what they reveal about the role of the brain in vision: http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/30909-how-optical-illusions-work-video.htm

Can You Apply It?

With the link below, learn more about optical illusions. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is perception? How does it relate to information detected by the senses?
  2. Our brains are overloaded with visual information, so it has to take shortcuts in order to process all of it. On what does the brain base these shortcuts to perception?
  3. In the video above, an unusual room, called the Ames room, leads to an optical illusion. What is the illusion?
  4. How does the shape of the room cause the illusion in question 3? What past experience does the brain use to interpret the visual information about the room and its occupants?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Laura Guerin; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Robson#; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_robson_/7766687718/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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