Test Your Brain With These Spellbinding Optical Illusion Contest Winners


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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  • ginnyweasly1
    ginnyweasly1Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 6:26 pm
    My favorite was the second one that changes colors
    • turtlereadz
      turtlereadzMonday, May 25, 2020 at 9:23 am
      That one is the Change The Color one, but I agree. It isn't my fav, tho. The dual axis is my favorite.
    • glowinq_stxrs
      glowinq_stxrsSunday, May 24, 2020 at 5:29 pm
      I wish I could do that with my cousins 😏
      • turtlereadz
        turtlereadzSunday, May 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm
        Woah! I never thought there would be something like that!! 10/10 stars!!
        • galaxy52
          galaxy52Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 12:39 pm
          Those were so cool! I didn't know that they had contests like that!
          • animereina2020
            animereina2020Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 8:48 am
            I love all of the optical illusions and fine them cool. I do not think I have a favorite because so of them were my favs!💕Make sure to like it you liked all of them too. And also, just to let you know, I have an announcement to make...I had an old account named Merility, but then it didn't work anymore😢 So, if you were one of my followers in 2019, I just wanted to let you know that I, animereina25, was Merility, an old account...(I am NOT 25....👌For those of you who were wondering, that is my favorite number😉) Yeah, and also reply if you want me to I know what your favorite illusion was👍
            • ginnyweasly1
              ginnyweasly1Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 6:27 pm
              My fav was color ones
            • moonkeeper77
              moonkeeper77Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 7:16 am
              Me toooo
              • bunnyqueen
                bunnyqueenWednesday, March 25, 2020 at 6:28 am
                I AM AMAZED!!!!!!!!!
                • purpledoggie810
                  purpledoggie810Monday, March 16, 2020 at 12:57 pm
                  Super cool and weird...I love optical illusions!
                  • sophie16
                    sophie16Friday, March 13, 2020 at 12:45 pm
                    I love all of them!!! But the rotating circles are kind of confusing😐
                    • i_do_not_exist
                      i_do_not_existThursday, March 26, 2020 at 1:51 pm
                      Yeah, I didn´t get it either
                      • greatskys716
                        greatskys716Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 1:58 pm
                        I agree
                      • traeheart77
                        traeheart77Friday, March 13, 2020 at 10:31 am
                        My favorite is Change The Color