Benham’s Disk: A Rotating Black-and-White Disk Produces The Illusion of Color

This is one of my favorite visual illusions. Benham’s disk, is named after the English toymaker Charles Benham, who in 1895 sold a top painted with the pattern shown. When you rotate this black-and-white pattern at the right speed, the pattern appears to contain colored rings. Not everyone sees the same colors.

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Let’s see if the spinning black and white disk can fool you into seeing some colors?!



Do you think you can understand why is this happening?

The phenomenon is not entirely understood. One possible reason people see colors may be that the color receptors in the human eye respond at different rates to red, green, and blue. More specifically, the latencies of the center and the surrounding mechanisms differ for the different types of color-specific ganglion cells.

The phenomenon originates from neural activity in the retina and spatial interactions in the primary visual cortex, which plays a role in encoding low-level image features, such as edges and spatiotemporal frequency components.

Benham’s disc is being researched for use as a diagnostic tool for diseases of the eye and the visual track.

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