Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dress: An Accidental Kick-ass Example of an Illusion

Original Photo Posted by Swiker
Seriously … our world err… internet, has gone bat shit cray cray over this {Roman Originals} dress.  It’s either Blue and Black, White and Gold, or Who f’ing cares.

I love the people posting the pictures of how they don’t give a shit.  Maybe I don’t have anything else exciting going on in my life, but I have learned SO much from this ‘debate’.  It’s not about a picture gone viral.  It’s about how different people’s perceptions can be and I find that to be extremely fascinating!  And I don’t see how people can’t care about learning something new.

At first I thought maybe it was the lighting in the room.  So my husband and I pulled our two boys (7 and 4) in the room to look at the exact same screen at the exact same time. The 7yo saw an orange and white dress.  The 4yo, a black and blue dress.  I saw the same as the 4yo while my husband sees a gold and white dress.

The science behind vision obviously involves very concentrated parts of our eyes and our brain.

So why is it that people looking at the same picture perceive totally different color combinations?

Wired provided some more insight on the science behind the dress debacle noting that light enters the eye through the lens, with different wavelengths corresponding to different colors. The light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments fire up neural connections to the visual cortex – the part of the brain that processes those signals into an image. The brain then figures out what color of light is bouncing off the object that your eyes are looking at.

For instance, if you look at a gray building during sunset, it will be inundated in a much redder light than it is during midday. But our brains are incredibly good at correcting the effects of that light and seeing the building as the exact same color at all times – which is gray.

This dress, however, hits some sort of “perceptual boundary,” prompting confusion about its illuminating and reflecting colors.

According to Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance. But I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of THE BIGGEST individual differences I’ve ever seen."

Here is why this whole thing has me intrigued… We still haven’t learned WHY different people's brains are making enormously different assumptions about what's going on.  After all, with most optical illusions, we're all fooled in the exact same way. But not in the case of the dress.

Y'all… a neuroscientist who has studied color vision for THIRTY YEARS is even mind-blown. Why can’t you be too?!? Or at least not make me feel bad for being so entertained by everyone’s opinion.

By the way, Neitz sees the dress as white and gold.

But seriously … #TheDress is blue and black.  Am I right?!?

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