The ghostly gaze of science

May 28, 2008
The ghostly gaze of science

An award-winning visual illusion developed by university psychologists will be shown as part of this year’s Glasgow Science Festival on 15 June.

The illusion plays on the way our minds decipher the direction of an individual’s gaze. From a distance the two figures in the Ghostly Gaze image appear to be looking at each other but as the image gets larger the figures appear to be looking straight ahead.

University of Glasgow lecturer in Psychology, Rob Jenkins, said: “Gaze direction is an important cue in social interactions. In most circumstances we are very accurate in judging where other people are looking, but under some conditions normal gaze perception can be led astray.

“The technique I used to create the image involves blending the fine detail from one photo with the broad strokes of a conflicting photo. Which photo is dominant then depends on the viewing distance. The illusion helps us to understand eye contact, and the sense of being stared at.”

The illusion won second prize in the 2008 Visual Illusion of the Year Award run by the Neural Correlate Society. Rob Jenkins, was presented with the award, designed by renowned Italian sculptor Guido Moretti, at a ceremony in Florida.

For more details on the award and the winning illusions visit illusioncontest.neuralcorrelate.com/

Source: University of Glasgow

Explore further: Physicist creates ice cream that changes colors as it's licked

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers explain why the man in the moon faces Earth

Mar 06, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Many of us see a man in the moon—a human face smiling down at us from the lunar surface. The "face," of course, is just an illusion, shaped by the dark splotches of lunar maria (smooth ...

Three Planets Bunch Up In Twilight & Deep Impact

Jun 21, 2005

Gaze low to the west into the deepening twilight for the next couple of weeks and three planets will await your view. One is bright; two are fainter. You can follow them through their celestial gyrations as they shift position ...

Recommended for you

How dinosaurs shrank, survived and evolved into birds

21 minutes ago

That starling at your birdfeeder? It is a dinosaur. The chicken on your dinner plate? Also a dinosaur. That mangy seagull scavenging for chips on the beach? Apart from being disgusting, yet again it is a ...

Children's book explores Really Big Numbers

36 minutes ago

A new children's book written and illustrated by a Brown mathematics professor Richard Schwartz takes readers on a visual journal through the infinite number system. Schwartz hopes Really Big Numbers will ...

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds (w/ Video)

18 hours ago

A new study involving scientists from the University of Southampton has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MikeMarianiMD,FAAP
1.8 / 5 (6) May 28, 2008
This "illusion" is not at all evident in the images presented. Can it be so subtle that it is inapparent to me, or does one have to be several feet away in order to perceive this?
Regardless, this is not impressive.
D666
4.8 / 5 (6) May 28, 2008
You have to be several feet away. I have a rolling chair, so it was easy to test. From 5 ft, they appear to be looking at each other, from normal viewing distance, not so much. The illusion is caused by inappropriate shading of the eyeballs which dominates the picture at a longer distance. No biggie.
KB6
1 / 5 (2) May 29, 2008
What's cool is if you look at it like you would look at a "magic eye" 3d picture. You get three faces, with the middle one staring right at you.
superhuman
1 / 5 (1) May 29, 2008
Yeah, usually the relatively darkest part of the eyeball is pointing (usually its pupil) in the direction of the look, their eyes are just shaded wrong.