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: Hearing with your eyes—a Western style of speech perception

Related Stories

Hearing with your eyes—a Western style of speech perception

November 15, 2016

Which parts of a person's face do you look at when you listen them speak? Lip movements affect the perception of voice information from the ears when listening to someone speak, but native Japanese speakers are mostly unaffected ...

What the brain sees after the eye stops looking

November 8, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- When we gaze at a shape and then the shape disappears, a strange thing happens: We see an afterimage in the complementary color. Now a Japanese study has observed for the first time an equally strange ...

Recommended for you

80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen confirmed

January 23, 2017

Utilizing the most rigorous testing methods to date, researchers from North Carolina State University have isolated additional collagen peptides from an 80-million-year-old Brachylophosaurus. The work lends further support ...

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse

January 23, 2017

Using the largest set of radiocarbon dates ever obtained from a single Maya site, archaeologists have developed a high-precision chronology that sheds new light on patterns leading up to the two major collapses of the ancient ...

New ancient otter species among largest ever found

January 23, 2017

Dr. Denise Su, curator and head of paleobotany and paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History was co-author on new research that described a species of otter new to science and that is among the largest otter ...

4 comments

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.