Optical illusions come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of stupidity. There was the blurry ham picture that made Reddit scratch its head. (Really.) And the one that turned out to just be a cigar shoved in a brick wall. (Also, really.) But today’s viral illusion, a baffling picture of strawberries created by a psychologist that’s making the rounds on Twitter, actually has a bit more scientific gravitas than your average, run-of-the-mill photo of girl who seems to be missing legs.
The image comes courtesy of Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan with a specialty in optical illusions. (His website is so trippy, it comes with the disclaimer, “Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately.”) The strawberries appear red, despite their lack of any red pixels, because of color constancy, or the way that the human brain is designed to perceive the same colors under a range of circumstances. Remember the Dress? Same deal.
Whether you’re outside in bright natural light or inside in a dimly-lit closet with a dying 20-watt light bulb, your brain works to color correct — to make sure the colors you are seeing remain, well, constant. So even though Kitaoka’s image has been manipulated to include only gray and greenish pixels, you still see red strawberries.