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Fooling the Brain

The human brain is easily fooled. There are various reasons for this, all having to do with evolution and the computing potential of neurons. To find out more about this topic, please refer to the book MindHacks.

That the brain can be fooled is an important consideration in design, because it is our perceptions that can be messed with by the appropriate stimulus. If a designed product fools a user's brain, then trouble can result. Of course, it is also possible to fool a user's brain for a useful and beneficial purpose; optical speed bars are one such example.

Just to demonstrate the ease with which the brain can be fooled, consider the following:

Here is a great article explaining how your brain processes visual inputs before your consciousness is involved. This means that people cannot help but see things that aren't necessarily there.

Move Just One Match

Consider Figure 1 below. You can make the equation correct by moving one single match. Time how long it takes for you to figure it out, and note the time. Now fix the equation in Figure 2 by moving a single match. Compare your times.

matchmovea.jpgFig. 1: Move one match to fix it. matchmoveb.jpgFig. 2: Move one match to fix it.

Here are some other, assorted oddities.

two-perfectly-round-circles.jpgFig. 3: Two perfectly round circles. Fig. 4: Your brain will change what it sees based on shadows. growingcarsillusion.jpgFig. 5: The three cars are exactly the same size. Fig. 6: These dots aren't moving.

Fig. 7: Block the corridor with your fingers. Do the walls seem to change speed? pareidolia1.jpgFig. 8: That face isn't really there. obamacareenrollmentfauxnews.jpgFig. 9: Visual design that takes advantage of one's unconscious can be used for nefarious purposes.

Fig. 10: Sometimes your brain can get fooled even when no one is trying to fool it. Fig. 11: This one only works because the flag isn't moving, so some intent was required.

Fig. 12: The bars are always moving at a constant rate.

Fig. 13: Are the dots rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise?

Fig. 14: Stare at the center and see the other dots vanish.

psychadelicpropeller.jpgFig. 15: This isn't so much an illusion as a shortcoming of technology.

design/fooling_the_brain.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)