Test Your Brain With These Spellbinding Optical Illusion Contest Winners


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Magic Tic-Tac-Toe was one of the top ten finalists at the 2019 Best Illusion of the Year contest (Credit:Illusionoftheyear.com)

Now celebrating its fifteenth year, The Best Illusion of the Year is a fun contest hosted by the Neural Correlate Society in collaboration with the Museum of Mind. The competition encourages scientists and artists to showcase their ingenuity and creativity by submitting their best illusion through a short video. Here are this year's top 3 illusions selected by fans from the top 10 finalists in an online vote on December 13, 2019.

2019 Winner — Dual Axis

American game developer Frank Force took home the top prize of $3,000 for his spellbinding Dual Axis Illusion. The mirage features a deceptively simple illustration of the Greek ichthys fish symbol that seemingly defies logic by rotating around both the vertical and horizontal axis at once. Though visual clues introduced by Force allow the brain to perceive it revolving around a specific axis for short periods of time, the clever illusion returns as soon as the hints are removed.

2019 Runner-Up — Change the Color

University of Tokyo researcher Haruaki Fukuda's mind-boggling illusion, which alters an object's color based on movement, took home the second prize of $2000. In Change the Color, viewers will first see what appear to be rows of alternating red and green dots moving from top to bottom. However, if they focus on the animation long enough, the dots suddenly turn to yellow and start to move from left to right!

2019 Third Prize — The Rotating Circles

Ryan E.B. Mruczek and Gideon Paul Caplovitz, professors at the College of the Holy Cross and the University of Nevada, respectively, won the third prize and $1,000 with their submission, The Rotating Circles. In the mesmerizing video, a small circle is traveling along a perfectly circular path, until other moving circles are introduced. The original circle then appears to alter its path, either moving horizontally, vertically, side-to-side, or even in a triangular motion!

Closely observe all the illusions, including top-ten finalist, Magic Tic-Tac-Toe (below), and vote for your favorite one by adding your comments below.

Resources: illusionoftheyear.com, scientificamerican.com, gizmodo.com

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  • evayang
    evayangFriday, July 30, 2021 at 12:56 am
    I got tricked, I can't believe it.
    • purplerain44
      purplerain44Monday, May 24, 2021 at 7:08 am
      • squirrel_girl3
        squirrel_girl3Monday, April 26, 2021 at 8:09 pm
        I love optical illusions! They are so much fun!
        • dinototo
          dinototoTuesday, March 2, 2021 at 8:28 pm
          Can't stop thinking about it
          • kittygalx2
            kittygalx2Monday, January 25, 2021 at 1:50 pm
            change color definatly
            • kurz
              kurzFriday, January 22, 2021 at 8:40 am
              I love optical illusions!!!
              • ultrajango
                ultrajangoThursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:30 am
                the dual axis one was mesmerizing 😵
                • saladdressing
                  saladdressingWednesday, January 6, 2021 at 6:58 am
                  I didnt really like the white dot one but i liked the moving colors and the tic tac toe one
                  • coolkid77
                    coolkid77Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 1:28 pm
                    the best was either the axis or the tic tac toe, circle was worst
                    • writhe19
                      writhe19Friday, November 13, 2020 at 6:30 am
                      I prefer the color one.
                      • legitbg
                        legitbgFriday, December 18, 2020 at 7:54 am
                        once you see the colours yellow you can't see them green and red again
                        • wolfdog
                          wolfdogFriday, April 23, 2021 at 7:04 am
                          That's not true, you can switch their direction with concentration.