Test Your Brain With These Spellbinding Optical Illusion Contest Winners


CCSS NAS-6 338 Words 3-Minute Listen
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

Get the Workbook for this article!

Workbook contains: Article, Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking Questions, Vocabulary in Context (+ answers), Multiple Choice Quiz (+ answers), Parts of Speech Quiz (+ answers), Vocabulary Game (+ answers)
Cite Article
  • the_animator
    the_animatorFriday, October 16, 2020 at 1:47 pm
    I think that the best one was the circle one
    • helen0916
      helen0916Monday, August 10, 2020 at 6:07 pm
      I want to try and make an illusion too! It looks so fun and cool!
      • ellie0307
        ellie0307Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 8:05 pm
        I want to try and make an illusion of my own. it's cool!
        • wolfieland
          wolfielandSunday, August 9, 2020 at 2:03 pm
          • tatercandy
            tatercandyFriday, July 24, 2020 at 7:48 pm
            I was confusing but cool
            • iamgood
              iamgoodThursday, July 9, 2020 at 5:12 pm
              I like the Dual Axis one
              • laynebot5
                laynebot5Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 4:20 pm
                Cool ilusions
                • lovebooks123
                  lovebooks123Sunday, June 7, 2020 at 8:37 am
                  That was AWESOME!
                  • citizenofheaven
                    citizenofheavenWednesday, June 3, 2020 at 2:08 pm
                    this is so cool! love it!
                    • theodd1sout1
                      theodd1sout1Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 1:33 pm
                      okay the best one was the dual axis one hands down. The color changing one was a close second