This Black Dot Optical Illusion is Driving People Nuts!


The internet has a new obsession, and it’s all about black dots.

A couple of days back, this image was posted on Facebook.

It contains twelve black dots arrayed around a grid with straight and diagonal lines. The problem is that there’s no way for the normal human eye to see each of the dots at once!

There really are 12 black dots here, and you can prove it by covering most of the image with something and letting your eye focus on each point at the top, middle and bottom separately. So far, the internet is going cross-eyed trying to see them all.

The illusion has been around for awhile, being first put together by Jacques Ninio back in 2000. In fact, it’s called Ninio’s Extinction Illusion and was published as part of a study called ‘Variations on the Hermann grid: an extinction illusion.’

The deal is that your eyes have a lot of information to process and they’re generally doing a lot of work to keep the area at your point of focus sharp and legible.

What that means is there’s a lot of interpretation going on in other areas, with your eyes and brain filling in blanks enough so you can get by. In this case, the interlocking pattern of grey lines suggests that the rest of the image should look the same, so the sharper black points disappear.

Think of it as your eyes assuming these black spots won’t be there, so it just doesn’t bother with them!

The combination of our eyes and brain do the best they can to give us a representation of the physical world but that’s a hugely complex task, so you can understand if they occasionally take a break.

Rest assured though, there are definitely 12 black dots!

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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