This is a picture that has been viral among social media users, as only 1% of people can find the animal in the picture. Are you one of them?

Well, I suppose your brains are almost tired and hurting by now. Alright then we might have to come back to it later.

Are You Ready for The Second Round?

Guys, have you ever heard of the McCollough effect? It’s a type of a weird trick of the mind. It will let your mind start seeing a pinkish tinge or other colors when you look at black-and-white lines after staring at a colored grating (alternating lines) for a long time.

To trigger the effect, you have to simply stare at the middle of two colored “Induction images” for a few minutes or more, switching back and forth continuously. This trick works the best with red or green lines. After this, you’ll notice some places in the picture in red, green and pink when you look at the vertical black-and-white lines.

The effect will be enhanced if you tilt your head 90 degrees. Sometimes, rotating the induction images and staring at them repeatedly might reverse this effect. The effect will last for a long time if you stare at the original induction images for a long time – Sometimes, for hours, days or else for a few months.

But is this real? If it is so, what’s the reason for it?

The effect was named after its discoverer, Celeste McCollough Howard, a US psychologist. She was the first to find this amazing “Contingent aftereffect”. This is an illusion that affects our brains for a long period.

Many people have done various studies regarding this effect during the past years. Two researchers used five groups, 16 people in each, to test this in 1975. To their surprise one of the groups showed no lessening of the effect soon after five days. Of course, this showed that this effect remained better than half strength for 4 groups out of the 5, up to three months or 2,040 hours later.

If you’re one interested in this, you can now test this amazing effect with yourself using the images below. Please note that it can affect your vision for some time as you’re going to stare at it for a while. The effect only gets triggered when you see horizontal or vertical lines afterward. But no worries, for the most part, it will cause no harm. Try it. It’s up to you.

So, what’s the reason for this? There had been opposing ideas on this. Three main lines used in this were talked with much consideration. The first one was identified to have something to do with the neurons available in our visual cortex. The second one, is that our brain tries to color-correct the world and gets a bit messed up and stuck, while the last one is that it’s a kind of withdrawal symptom, in this case lack of color.

Amidst a lot of studies, one which was done back in 1995 was quite interesting. The researchers who carried out the research examined a single patient who had faced significant damage in the brain. According to what researchers said, the patient was “able to see color but little less”.

Even though the patient was unable to notice the gratings, the researchers showed him red-and-green gratings. Meanwhile, the patient had reported that this effect worked when using a black-and-white grating. Eventually, the researchers came into a conclusion saying that this effect was probably happening within the visual cortex, or else in a place in between the brain and the eye.

Here are two induction images that can trigger the effect, if you alternate between staring at their centers for a few minutes. Fredifortakeoff/Wikimedia

When you have a look at this image, it should be with green, red or pink-colored parts. Android Mouse/Wikimedia

Julien Ciroux submitted a thesis to Edinburgh University and it agreed with this. The thesis included, “the processing mechanisms involved in the ME [McCollough effect] are mostly located in the primary visual cortex, even if the change in this early area of the visual system drives subsequent modification in the activity pattern of higher cortical areas.”

Some studies have reflected on just how prevalent this unique effect is. One way back in 1969, it was discovered that different stripes colored red and green resulted in the after-effects. Weirdly, it was found that if your induction image was green, then you’d see red colors on vertical grates and green colors on horizontal grates. If a red induction image was used, then those colors were reversed.

What’s most strange, it was only red and green which worked. “Colors near pure blue and pure yellow, which had little red or green content, produced weak aftereffects,” the study revealed. But, yet experts are not certain about the reason for this effect working so good with the colors red and green when compared to others.

Are you keen on the grating things? Well, maybe it’s due to the strong response of the neurons available in our visual cortex and there, “preferred orientation and spatial frequency,” according to another study. This study also suggested a quite interesting theory that said the JPEG image format used “plaid-like” (chequered) patterns, which are two gratings overlaid on each other.

“Perhaps the efficiency of this kind of representation means that something similar is also used by the visual system?” they stated.

And that’s kind of where we are now. It looks very much like the visual cortex is doing something, with your brain being tricked in one way or another. Though we are unable to figure out the exact mechanism of the sequences, it seems that your eyes are being tricked by the brain and it’s not a problem of your eyes.

This is the best example for an instance where our brain is fooled, such as being confused by concentric circles or struggling to tell lines are parallel. Brains are strange! Aren’t they?

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