As we learned from an image of a certain dress that took over the Internet earlier this year, our perceptions of color don’t always align with reality. This clip from the BBC Four Series Colour: The Spectrum of Science does a great job of illustrating just how easily our brain can be tricked when it comes to vision.
The video first shows a black-and-white photograph of Dunstanburgh Castle followed by a false color version of the same image. If you stare at the dot in the middle of the picture for long enough, your eyes should be able to perceive the image in full color once it switches back to black-and-white.
The way it works is by manipulating the photoreceptors in your eyes into perceiving specific colors. Cone cells, one of the two types of photoreceptors in our retina, are what allow us to see color. Our eyes have three different types of cones: ones sensitive to blue light wavelengths, ones sensitive to green, and ones that are sensitive to red. When a cone is exposed to an excessive amount of the color it perceives, it becomes fatigued and unresponsive. This causes the only two cones that are still in use to respond by showing their opposing complementary colors. The resulting illusion is freaky, but it isn’t permanent: a few blinks should set your vision back to normal.
[h/t: IFL Science]