All About Japan

Think You're Seeing Orange? Think Again!

Photography Technology Science

Akiyoshi Kitaoka is a professor of experimental psychology at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University. A specialist in visual perception, Kitaoka doesn’t just provide instruction for his students, he also creates mind-bending illusions like the now infamous gray or cyan pixelated strawberry cake.

This illusion is the result of a phenomenon called color constancy, which is usually a good thing. In very simple terms, color constancy is what lets you continue to perceive an object as being the same color even if the color of the illuminating light changes. Even after you carry a piece of plain white paper down into a room it with a red light bulb, for example, your brain still understands that the paper itself is as white as it was before.

What makes things really startling is how subtle yet thorough the process can be. In the case of the strawberries, one could argue that common and prior knowledge that strawberries are red influences how Kitaoka’s photo is perceived, but what if we were talking about something that there’s no standard, preconceived color for, like a train?

Color constancy still works, based on color cues your brain is trying to pick up on elsewhere in the image.

For more mindbending illusions, you can follow Akiyoshi Kitaoka's Twitter account.

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