A vase from China’s Song dynasty demonstrates the use of very faint contrast borders to create the illusion of shading on a one-color background. The phenomenon is known as edge induction. The image of the vase is overlaid over the Cornsweet illusion, in which the left half of a rectangle divided in two looks lighter and the right area darker. Holding one’s hand over the center of the image reveals that the left and the right are in fact the same color. The brain “fills in” the color on the left and the right in response to information from the middle border. Courtesy of Anna Roe.
When in doubt about what we see, our brains fill in the gaps for us by first drawing the borders and then “coloring” in the surface area, new research has found. The research is the first to pinpoint the areas in the brain, and the timing of their activity, that are responsible for how we see borders and surfaces.
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