Fooling Your Senses:

Ambiguous Images

The figure on the right is a classic example of an ambiguous image. Your brain interprets the image as a three-dimensional cube. However, your brain is unsure where the closest part of the cube is. For many people, after looking for a while, the image seems to "jump" back and forth between two different cubes.

Another version of the ambiguous cube. The star is a reference for your brain. You may see the star on the top of the cube, or you may see the star on the front of the cube. Most people's brains like to switch back-and-forth, not able to decide which image is correct.

Again, your brain gets confused by the image, unsure which portion of the object is closest. That is exactly why your brain is confused. No part of any of the images is "closer" to you. These are all two-dimensional (flat) drawings that your brain interprets as having depth.

Do you see a box sitting in a corner, or a large cube missing a piece?

What really is there is simply a flat drawing that is shaded to fool your brain!

Here is a whole collection of ambiguous images. Again, what makes your brain confused is the fact that certain "clues" seem to indicate that the pictures are of actual objects instead of just flat drawings.

(Technically, the image at the middle, right is an impossible object.)

Some ambiguous images fool your brain into seeing objects that aren't there at all. Our brains like to make sense out of things by making them "complete." We tend to see black circles and a white cube in this image, but in reality neither is there. The only images are some black wedges.

Another type of ambiguous image is shown here. This time, there is not enough information for most people's brains to make sense of the image. We tend to see just black spots on white. However, once your brain figures out what it's seeing, you will probably always be able to see it.

(Move your mouse over the image to see what the photograph is actually of.)

Similar to the image above, your brain may not have enough information to see what is there. After looking for a while, move your mouse over the image.