Roses are red, violets are blue, and sometimes the brain plays tricks on you. The latest optical illusion to be flipping people out is a photo of some seemingly plump, red strawberries on a plate. Except the catch is that there aren’t any red pixels at all in the picture, just a whole lot of gray.
Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, created the image that has people scratching their heads. He studies visual illusions along with making them, with his entire website filled with various other creations.
The explanation for the image of strawberries appearing red, while there isn’t any actual red in the picture can be explained by color constancy. It’s the same circumstance that had people seeing “The Dress” in two different colors. A study on the topic published in the 2015 Journal of Vision explains, “Color constancy mechanisms serve to partially stabilize object color appearance across illumination changes.”
Essentially, the brain is telling you the strawberries are supposed to be red because that’s what they normally are.
Motherboard explains the science of the optical vision further. Kaleigh Rogers writes, “When you look around the world, the light that enters your eye is made of different wavelengths that come from both the pigments of the objects around you and the light that illuminates them.”
And other people around the internet have tinkered with the image to depict the color constancy. Here’s a lightened version of the picture, with the strawberries appearing to be an even more vibrant red because of the illumination:
Another Twitter user pulled colors out of the photo to demonstrate the fact that the image is just made up of a bunch of grays and greens.
A rectangle of the color intersecting the fruit and a block of the color can also be helpful to illustrate the concept.
Every now and then, there’s an optical illusion that captures the attention of the internet. Beyond “The Dress,” people were enthralled by an image of someone’s legs that appeared to either be extremely shiny or simply had a drizzle of white paint on them (it turned out to be the latter). These tricks on the eyes always tend to bring people together on the internet, hungry for answers and the truth behind mind-boggling pictures.
If you’re looking for more mind riddles, check out these seven optical illusions and the science behind them.