A lot of what we think we see is perception, not reality.
Our perception is governed by preconditioning and selective processing by our visual system. In many cases we perceive what we expect to see rather than what we are actually seeing.
The heart above is not pulsing, but you perceive it to be.
Human perception is generated indirectly by brain mechanisms that interact with the physical reality. There is no better and illustrative way to understand and appreciate the complexity of the neural bases of perception and cognition than through the study of illusions.
An illusion is a perceptual or cognitive experience that does not match the physical reality (i.e. the perception of motion where no such motion physically exists).
The Best Illusion of the Year Contest is an annual recognition of the world’s illusion creators awarded by the Neural Correlate Society. It is an online contest where everyone in the world is invited to submit illusions and vote for the winner.
The contest decides on the most impressive perceptual or cognitive illusion of the year.
We encourage you to check out this years and prior years winners at http://illusionoftheyear.com
These illusions are absolutely fascinating and demonstrate everything from colour vision to after images and how our brain interprets motion. In most cases the creators of the illusion provide an explanation of the causes that alter our perception from the reality.
Have fun and be amazed!