Illusions: How Our Brain Can Trick Us

It feels like we have direct access to reality but, in order to produce that feeling, our brain is stitching together all the different information from our senses and filling in the gaps using its best guess as to what is out there in the world. We notice the things that our brain thinks are important and can process very complex information quickly because our brain sometimes takes shortcuts.  Normally we don’t even notice these shortcuts but visual illusions have helped us understand lots of the shortcuts used by the brain. Many illusions are based on your expectations - things that you have encountered in the past that have become wired into your brain. This is knowledge that influences the way we interpret and experience the world. This is because we assume that the world is fairly reliable based on our previous encounters so we assume that it is predictable.

The remarkable thing about illusions is that even when you know things are not what they seem, you still cannot force your mind to see it any other way. This is because your conscious mind is a product of your brain, which is feeding you the information.


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