Play With Your Blind Spot
January 11, 2009 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Blind Spot Optical Illusions. Online seminar from McCormick Lab at Yale lets you find your own visual blind spots. After that, you can make Monet's sun, and Van Gogh's ear, disappear.

Map your blind spot. Adapt to color (1, 2). Adapt to motion (making things swirl). Student Letters: "Dear Mr McCormick, Please don't suck out our brains!" (The student's reference to "gummies" may possibly refer to novelty candy from here.) Previously.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (15 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
"Help Van Gogh lose his ear!" Really? Really????
posted by smackfu at 8:58 PM on January 11, 2009

This is a cool primer, thanks; if I had kids I'd walk them through it. Slides 7,8,9 and 11 are really neat. So are 18 and 19. And that adapt-to-motion thing is one of those wonderful "this is sort of what it can be like visually to trip on mushrooms" moments for folks who don't do drugs.
posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on January 11, 2009

I can't help but imagine one of those banner ads:

"Help Van Gogh lose his ear! Pour absinthe into his mouth to win a free iPod Shuffle!!!"

Quite interesting though. Are blind spots unique to humans, I wonder, or could most animals also help Van Gogh lose his ear? If it's the visual cortex rather than the actual eye structure that causes it, I'd guess animals are probably subject to the phenomenon also, but I really don't know what I'm talking about.
posted by Nomiconic at 9:31 PM on January 11, 2009

In humans it is an actual eye structure that causes the blind spot. It's called the optic disk, where the optic nerve connects the eye to the brain, and there are no photoreceptors there. I believe all mammals are assumed to have a blind spot at the optic disk, and I would assume the eye structure is similar in most higher animals. It's what I seem to remember from my physiology of perception class, and it's mentioned that this is the case (for mammals) in Anatomy and Physiology of Farm Animals. But I'm not a vet, or even a biologist.
posted by moonbiter at 9:58 PM on January 11, 2009 right eye blind spot is almost nonexistant...i can always see at least half of the blue spot no matter where i move my head (the left eye spot does completely disappear) i wonder if being an artist has something to do with it or if its just an eye dominance effect...anyone else seeing what they're not supposed to see?
posted by sexyrobot at 10:20 PM on January 11, 2009

sexyrobot: anyone else seeing what they're not supposed to see?

I have the same issue with the left eye, which is a shame because many of the later examples are for that side. I don't consider myself particularly artistic (computer programmer by trade) so I would guess that's not it. I did some searching but came up blank. I'd be curious if anyone has an answer.
posted by funkiwan at 10:43 PM on January 11, 2009

Wow, thanks moonbiter. I expected someone to answer, but that was super-fast and included a reference to a textbook. Props.

Also I noticed the same thing sexyrobot, my dominant eye had much less of a blind spot than the non-dominant one.
posted by Nomiconic at 10:44 PM on January 11, 2009

Mmmm... I thought that I was experiencing the same thing as sexyrobot and Nomiconic. Left eye didn't seem to have as big a blindspot as the right eye. I found that moving my face vertically made the whole dot disappear. Guess I ain't got symmetrical optic disks.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:26 PM on January 11, 2009

What's r lly cool is that + these blind sp s are now permanent!
posted by troy at 11:56 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

i wonder if being an artist has something to do with it

I am an Artiste, as opposed to an artist, and therefore have blind spots.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 AM on January 12, 2009

sexyrobot/funkiwan: I doubt your blind spots are different sizes. You're probably unconsciously moving your eye around a little while doing the experiment. I once had a job mapping out people's visual fields and we had to carefully watch their pupils while doing so to make sure they weren't "cheating." Once they settled down, it was always easy to find the blind spot.
posted by Camofrog at 7:44 AM on January 12, 2009

I've tried this at distances between 4 and 18 inches from the screen and cannot manage to lose either spot with either eye.

Eye fail.
posted by mandal at 8:23 AM on January 12, 2009

Mister Cheese has it. Training or brain-sidedness has nothing to do with it, it's not a mental problem, but an actual physical obstruction that everyone must have if their eyes work at all.

The only way you could NOT have a blind spot would be if your eye was not connected to the rest of you... in which case it would be all-blind.
posted by rokusan at 4:55 PM on January 12, 2009

i so was not cheating! but hey, maybe you there often any asymmetry to these or other irregularities?
posted by sexyrobot at 6:29 PM on January 12, 2009

I think all vertebrates have a blind spot. It's certainly not true that all animals do though - cephalopods don't.
posted by edd at 1:38 AM on January 13, 2009

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